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Dec. 18, 1921 – Aug. 2, 2009

Rev. Paul C. Zylstra, tireless shepherd of congregations, faithful witness of Christ, gifted musician and writer, and distinguished long-distance runner, died Aug. 2 from congestive heart failure. He was 87.

Zylstra was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he attended Christian elementary and high schools. Upon graduation he joined the U.S. Army Air Force (now the U.S. Air Force).

In 1945 he enrolled in Calvin College, then continued his studies for the ministry at Calvin Theological Seminary, from which he graduated in 1952. He earned a Master of Theology degree from the seminary in 1955.

In 1947 Zylstra married Suzanne Swier, who passed away in 2007.

Zylstra served the following Christian Reformed churches: Aetna (Mich.) CRC (1952); South Grandville (Mich.) CRC (1956); San Diego (Calif.) CRC (1964); Community CRC, Ferrysburg, Mich. (1970); Preakness CRC in Wayne, N.J. (1976); and Palm Lane CRC in Scottsdale, Ariz. (1981). He retired in 1987.

Zylstra was a pastor of broad interests and considerable gifts. His first love was the pastoral ministry. He loved to socialize with people and was known to be a good listener. He readily recognized opportunities to witness about his Savior.

He also excelled in several sports. He was a fine softball player, a ski jump champion, and earned many trophies as a runner. He ran the Boston Marathon when he was nearly 70 years old.

Zylstra was also an accomplished musician and played the violin till late in life. He was a member of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra for many years.

His writing skill enabled him to write fascinating stories of the Zylstra family, the West Side of Grand Rapids, and the churches he served.

Zylstra is survived by his children: Sharon and Wietze Adema, Rosemary and Ron Draayer, Ruthann Zylstra, and son-in-law Jim Markus; and by 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A daughter, Nancy Markus, preceded him in death.

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