Ya Fattah!

Edward A. van Aelstyn

July 18th 1936 - May 23rd 2018



Diego and his Grandpa Van on the beach in Oregon (1).jpg


Edward Arthur “Van” van Aelstyn passed away peacefully on May 23, 2018.  He was at home and two of his children were by his side.  Van had a rich life as a theater director and actor, professor of English and film, editor, and activist.

Van was born on July 18, 1936 in Price, Utah to Edward Leslie van Aelstyn and Dixie Moore Babcock.  He overcame several severe illnesses as a child, including polio.  He attributed his survival largely to the loving devotion of his step grandmother Paula Gehrke Moore, for whom he named his first daughter.  His father was a public health doctor and his mother a social worker.  They later settled in Kelso, Washington, where Van was joined by his sister Catherine Mueller when he was six.  After his parents divorced, Van attended St. Martin’s, a Catholic school in Lacey, Washington (now St. Martin’s University).  He graduated in 1953 at the age of 16 and attended the (Catholic) University of Portland where he earned a B.A. in Philosophy in 1957.  There too he deepened his love of theater.  At one point he and some college buddies – John Chrisman and Edward Cameron of UP, and Richard Kennedy of Portland State University – got jobs as extras in a touring production of What Every Woman Knows with Helen Hayes.

Read the full obituary here



A celebration as large as his impact will be held on July 21, 2018 at the Performing Arts Center's Alice Silverman Theatre starting at 5 pm. 

There will be a specially curated array of perfomers and speakers from more than 50 years of collaboration.

Calling all photos, videos and  anecdotes!!!

We want to capture as much of Van's life as possible! If you have photos, videos or memories you would be willing to share, please send them here. If you have items to share but don't want the world to see, please specify and we will make sure it remains in the "family only" collection. 

Stay up to date with changes, comment and share over at our blog


The Edward van Aelstyn Memorial Scholarship

Van’s family has established a scholarship to benefit OCCC students.  All whose lives were touched by Van are invited to contribute.  You may use the form below or mail your gift to: OCCC Foundation, 400 SE College Way, Newport, OR 97366.

Thank you for joining us in honoring Van’s memory. 

Contributions can be made here

On Teaching

Our opportunity is to help students perceive their environment, to think about their experience, to articulate their feelings….We do this by reading and discussing writers who do perceive, and think, and feel.

We do it by leading and steering in-class criticism of each other’s work. We do it by example. We do it by fashioning assignments that elicit that kind of activity.

When our students are exercised in this way, they respond as if they had been doing aerobics or tai chi:  they feel better, they want to go further, they are encouraged (i.e., they have been given courage).”

-  Edward van Aelstyn