Grand Haven Daily Tribune  July 30, 1947




M. Lotterman of Alendale

Lost in Tragedy


SURVIVE DROWNING TRAGEDY - Hudson Brouwer, 20, (left) and Gordon Klomparens, 20 (center) struggled to safety from the Grand River this morning when they were washed off the south pier.  Lester Gemmen, 19, who was with the youths, was able to stay on the pier and assist his companions to safety. A fourth companion, Marvin Lotterman, was drowned.  All youths were from Allendale

   Swept off the end of the south pier by a gigantic wave from Lake Michigan, Marvin (Pete) Lotterman, 19, of Allendale was drowned about 10:30 a.m. today.                                        

   A big sea was running and the big lake was whipped up under a strong southwest wind.

   With Lotterman were three others, all from Allendale, two of whom were also swept into the water at the same time. They were Hudson Brouwer, 20; Gordon Klomparens, 20; and Lester Gemmen, 19, who escaped being dashed into the water.

   Brouwer, the most experienced swimmer of the group, brought Klomparens to the pier with the assistance of Gemmen, who was the only one left on the pier as the waters receded, aided in getting Klomparens up a ladder.  He was unconscious but within a few minutes revived and apparently did not suffer from the experience.

   Brouwer judged he was in the water between four and five minutes in the rescue of Klomparens, who...could not swim...and was knocked out, when he grabbed him in the heavy sea.  The rescue was made about 25 feet away from the pier, almost in Lake Michigan.

   The three boys ran to the minnow concession where they yelled for help and the Coast Guard was notified. Chief Marsh immediately put out and began dragging.  Up to 2 p.m. the body of Lotterman had not been recovered.

War Paratrooper

   Brouwer said he had a previous experience in saving a man from drowning when he served in a paratroop outfit in the Philippines.  He said that undoubtedly this experience aided him in bringing Klomparens to safety.

   He said he last saw Lotterman clinging to Klomparens but by the time he reached Klomparens, Lotterman apparently was swept away and sank.

   There were no others at the extreme end of the pier Brouwer said, at the time of the tragedy, although there were many along the pier up to the lighthouse.  The four boys, he said, were standing with their backs to the foghorn station on a narrow part of the pier watching the action of the rolling sea.  They were all dressed in swimming trunks with the exception of Lotterman who had on a T-shirt and trunks.  The big wave, he said, was much larger than any they had seen and they were engulfed in the water so quickly he hardly realized what had happened.  Gemmen did not get the full force of the wave and escaped going into the water.

    Gemmen said he could do nothing to aid his friends so remained on the pier to assist Brouwer who was struggling in the waves with his almost lifeless companion.  He got down the ladder and the two were able to get Klomparens to the pier.  Brouwer was pretty well winded he said when Gemmen came to his aid.

Came Here Saturday

     The four boys have been camping at the Grand Haven State Park.  They came Saturday and expected to remain a week, said Brouwer.   He said they had all been here many times and were used to going into Lake Michigan.  Lotterman could swim as could Gemmen and Brouwer.  They had been swimming each day since their arrival, they said.  Today with the high seas rolling, they did not go in, but instead walked to the end of the pier to watch the waves.      

     Lotterman is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Lotterman and he had been working with his father who is a carpenter.  He is the youngest of a family of five sisters, Violet, Lucille, Grace, Rose and Gladys.  He had attended the Allendale schools and was well known to that community.

     Brouwer was drafted into the army and served for 24 months.  He was a corporal in a paratroop outfit that served 14 months in the Pacific area.  After 24 months service he was discharged last September.  He is employed at the Grand Rapids Metalcraft Co. at Grand Rapids.  Klomparens is a native of Allendale and works on a farm with his father, and Gemmen assists his father in his slaughterhouse.  All four boys were spending a vacation week on the beach.

    Chief Marsh returned to the life boat station and said he doubted if the body would be recovered for some time as the wind action on the lake, together with the swift current in the river, probably had washed the body out far from shore.  With Marsh were Motor Machinist's Mate Walter Halstead and Seaman Robert Elgin.