Prof Fons van de Vijver … suffered a brain haemorrhage while cycling at Maidenwell (Photo: Dolph Cantrijn)

June 17, 2019

A special service will be held in Maidenwell on Saturday (June 22) to celebrate the extraordinary life of a local resident who suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage recently while cycling.

The death of Fons van de Vijver, 66, shocked the Maidenwell community.

He was found unconscious beside his pushbike on May 31. A medevac helicopter, which landed on Maidenwell Oval, transported him to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane but sadly he died within a few hours of his arrival.

Most Maidenwell residents simply knew Fons and his wife Lona as members of the local rural fire brigade, but Fons was renowned internationally as a Professor of Cross-Cultural Psychology who had published more than 400 papers and was linked to multiple universities.

The celebration of his life will be held in the Maidenwell Memorial Hall from 10:00am on Saturday.  Family, friends, students and colleagues around the world are sending videos to contribute to celebrating all aspects of Fons’ life.

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Prof Fons van de Vijver (Photo: PSSA)

The following tribute (translated and edited from Dutch) was written by Prof Dr Kutlay Yagmur, from the Tilburg University School of Humanities and Digital Sciences:

On Saturday, June 1, our beloved colleague Fons van de Vijver died at the age of 66 in Maidenwell, Queensland.

Even before his retirement, Fons and his wife Lona were looking forward to settling in Queensland. They had built a cozy house on a small piece of land. After Fons retired in June 2018, they moved to Australia to live there permanently.

Fons and Lona loved living in Maidenwell and were in contact with many people in the area.

Although Fons was retired, he remained involved in several projects.

We kept in constant contact online and he was always available for students and colleagues. Together we continued to publish and supervise PhD students. On June 17, he was to fly to Schiphol for a PhD presentation at Tilburg University.

Fons was known as a very fit and healthy person. He trained regularly and was conscious of his diet.

He loved cycling on the roads around Maidenwell.

On Friday afternoon, May 31, Fons went cycling. He was found by passers-by along the road. He was probably struck by a heavy brain haemorrhage while cycling. His wife Lona was called and he was flown to a hospital in Brisbane.

Lona was taken to Brisbane, 200+ km away, by good friends.

The unexpected and early farewell of Fons van de Vijver shocked everyone who knew him.

We have lost a great colleague, a good friend and an excellent scholar. Fons had an impressive record. He has supervised more than 40 promotions and 10 post-doc studies. He has presented keynotes and lectures at conferences and workshops in different countries. He is one of the most cited intercultural psychologists in Europe.

He received grants and scholarships from various Dutch institutions, the European Union, the South African-Netherlands Research Program on Alternatives in Development and the South African National Research Foundation.

He was a member of numerous professional organisations including the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology, the International Association of Applied Psychology, the European Association of Psychological Assessment, the International Academy for Intercultural Research and the International Test Commission.

Prof Fons van de Vijver was a very special person.

He was a committed scientist with great integrity.

Academia has lost a very productive and hard-working scholar. Fons has inspired many young scientists and he will continue to live in our minds and hearts.

Our grief is overwhelming, but we are grateful to Fons for what he has done for the academic world and for humanity.

Our thoughts are with his wife Lona Goudswaard. We wish her every strength.

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Alphonsius Josephus Rachel (Fons) van de Vijver was a Dutch psychologist and Professor of Cross-Cultural Psychology at Tilburg University (NL), North-West University (SA), University of Queensland (AU), and National Research University, Higher School of Economics (RU).

He was known for his work on cross-cultural research and on methods of comparisons, resulting in more than 400 publications.

He has been supervising 40 PhD students and five post-docs, and has had numerous editorial roles, among them the editorship of the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.

Fons has been vice-dean for research and vice-dean for education at the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Tilburg University and vice-director of Babylon, the interdisciplinary research centre for studies of multicultural societies at Tilburg University.

He has been president of Division 2 (Assessment and Evaluation) of the International Association of Applied Psychology, president of the European Association of Psychological Assessment, and president of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology.

He was the 2013 recipient of the International Award of the American Psychological Association for his contributions to international co-operation and to the advancement of knowledge of psychology. He was also the 2014 recipient of the IAAP Fellows Award of the International Association of Applied Psychology.

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