Harry Boonstra

Harry entered his final home on October 23rd, following a brief illness. Harry was a beloved husband, father, Opa, brother, uncle and friend. We deeply mourn our loss and sadly release the natural ties to him, but we anticipate with holy joy the resurrection reunion with him and all who have gone before him, and those who will follow in the faith in the Christ of the Gospel of God. He is survived by his wife Thelma (nee Pastoor), daughters Jeanne Ditta (husband Joe Ditta), Anne Peterson (husband Bill Peterson), Sarah Boonstra (husband Rodney Sullivan). His grandchildren Elise Ditta, Tony Ditta, Michael Peterson, Chad Peterson, Matt Peterson, Jacob Elliott, Ellie Boer and Piper Boer (father Steve Boer). Harry touched so many lives. He loved his family and delighted in the company of his children and grandchildren. He had a heart for immigrants and refugees, and anyone he thought might feel as though they were an outsider. He loved the students with whom he worked throughout his career and had dear relationships with them that went beyond the classroom. He had a passion for writing, theology, social justice, worship, church history, Bible studies, translation, children and animals. Harry was born on December 23, 1935 in Kommerzijl, Groningen, The Netherlands. He was the 7th of 8 children born to Karst and Grietje Boonstra. Harry lived in the Netherlands for the first 14 years of his life, part of which time was during World War II. After the difficult war years, his family made the decision to immigrate to Canada. Harry lived in Canada with his family until he went to Calvin College. While at Calvin, Harry met his wife Thelma. They were married in 1960. Harry and Thelma went on to have three daughters, Jeanne, Anne and Sarah. Harry and his family moved to many places over the years: to the Netherlands for Harry to complete his PhD in English from Loyola University, Peru to be short-term missionaries, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee to teach at Covenant College, Holland, Michigan to teach at Hope College and Grand Rapids, Michigan to be the Theological Librarian at Calvin College. Along the way Harry earned several other degrees including a Masters of Divinity from Western Theological Seminary. He was ordained at age 50 (!) and went on to preach at many churches, from Indonesia to Grand Rapids.Harry was an active member of his church, Neland Ave. Christian Reformed Church. He recently wrote a book about the history of the church and received enormous pleasure from doing so. There is a hole in all of our lives from his absence that will never be filled. He was loved by so very many. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to one of the following organizations that were dear to Harry: World Renew or The Potter’s House. Visitation will be held at Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church, 940 Neland Ave SE, on Saturday, October 28 from 12-2 PM, followed by a Memorial Service at 2 PM.

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