When Theo van de Venne was looking to move from Belgium to a new home in the United States, he and his family were immediately drawn to Murrysville.

“In December 1976, we had just spent nearly four years in Brussels, where I worked for Westinghouse Europe,” van de Venne said. “Murrysville was our preference because of the quality schools and abundance of green space.”

Van de Venne and his wife, Pia, have wasted no time getting involved in the community, a passion they have pursued for nearly five decades.

On Thursday, van de Venne will be recognized following his resignation from the Murrysville Community Library Board of Trustees as well as the Murrysville Community Library Foundation.

These are just two of the many volunteer positions he has held over the years.

Shortly after arriving in town in the mid-1970s, van de Venne discovered a young youth soccer group looking for volunteers.

“I signed up immediately,” he said.

The result was the Murrysville Area Soccer Association, and van de Venne spent his Sundays for the next 14 years playing, coaching and officiating games until the youngest of his three sons went off to college.

After retiring from Westinghouse in 1996, a friend suggested van de Venne look into the Westmoreland Conservancy, another local nonprofit in its infancy.

After a few years, he was elected president in 2001 and, together with previous president, Cary Bohl, helped the reserve open the McGinnis Reserve, a 52-acre property donated by the McGinnis family, owners of Respironics on Murry Ridge Lane.

“Together with Cary, he orchestrated a beautiful reveal of the reserve, complete with bagpipes to honor the Scottish heritage of the McGinnis family,” Reserve Chair Shelly Tichy said.

From there, van de Venne moved on to Murrysville Council, where he was part of the hire of the current Murrysville Police Chief, as well as former Chief Administrator Jim Morrison.

“For me, the best purchase of my eight years on the board was the property of Cline Farm,” van de Venne said.

The $1.35 million purchase turned into a modern community park in Murrysville.

Around the same time, van de Venne and his wife decided to donate much of their property off Round Top Road in Murrysville to keep it from being developed.

This took until 2011 and included participation from the Westmoreland Land Trust. But, eventually, the property became an extension of Murrysville’s Duff Park, complete with miles of trails.

“He loves Murrysville and he wants to leave our town a better place for future generations,” said Jill Cooper, who worked with van de Venne during her time with the Murrysville Economic and Community Development Corp. “To me, that’s really meaningful, and we’re lucky to have people like him who love their community and want to give back.

Van de Venne has also volunteered with the Murrysville Library Board, its foundation, and the local chapter of Meals on Wheels.

“He’s been such an asset to the community and it’s been an honor to work with him,” said Amy Riegner, director of the Murrysville Community Library. “Our time together only lasted a few years, but it touched many lives and helped many people.”

Van de Venne will be recognized at 7 p.m. Thursday at the library, 4130 Sardis Road, Murrysville. The public is invited to attend.

Patrick Varine is an editor at Tribune-Review. You can contact Patrick by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .