Friends of deceased pastor: ‘There’s a void’

Al Hoogewind. (Courtesy Centennial Park Counseling's website)

GRAND RAPIDS, Tenn. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids counseling community is grieving the loss of a retired pastor and counselor who was killed after a hit-and-run crash in Nashville, Tenn. Tuesday.

It happened at around 9:30 p.m., according to police, when Rev. Al Hoogewind and a co-worker were crossing a street in a Nashville neighborhood. Hoogewind was hit by a car and died at the scene. The car fled the scene.

Hoogewind previously served as a pastor at East Leonard Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids for five years.

“I think he could be best described as a person who loved and I think he was probably the most Christ-like person I’ve ever known,” said Terry Slachter, who was a pastor alongside Hoogewind at the church.

Hoogewind was also a teacher, an author and was involved in the Hope Network. He wrote a book titled “Parables of Hope” about people with disabilities and ways to be more inclusive.

Slachter said Hoogewind loved to fish and always enjoyed learning new things.

“He was always learning, always taking another seminar, taking other classes so he could be the best counselor possible for folks,” Slachter told 24 Hour News 8.

Hoogewind was also a counselor at Centennial Park Counseling in Grand Rapids. He specialized in addiction and codependency counseling, as well as marital and individual counseling.

Jan Bentley, the executive director for Centennial Park Counseling, met Hoogewind 13 years ago and developed a strong friendship with him.

“I could accept the fact that he was in an accident and in the hospital, but when they actually told me that he was gone, it was very traumatic. He was not only a professional counselor, but he was a beloved friend, so there’s a void,” said Bentley.

Bentley told 24 Hour News 8 that Hoogewind was in Nashville for a conference.

“It was a sexual addiction conference to learn more about the area in which he was already skilled,” Bentley said.

Hoogewind is described as a man who loved his family, had a deep faith, and often traveled to Africa and Thailand to help spread knowledge.

“He loved his wife, was dedicated to his family, was so proud of his kids and grandkids,” Bentley said. “I really believe Al would remind me that [his death] is not a mistake, even though it doesn’t make sense to us; that God is in control. And he would say ‘Jan, just keep fighting the good fight, keep on doing what you’re doing.'”

Bentley said the facility will continue Hoogewind’s legacy and will always have a place for addiction counseling at Centennial Park Counseling.

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