May 1, 1930 - April 7, 2010
Rev. William Thomas De Vries, an all-around missionary, preacher, teacher, youth leader, family man, and joyful believer, passed away April 7, as a result of Lewy Body Disease. He was 80.
De Vries was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., the son of John and Helen De Vries. He attended Christian high school and went on to Calvin College, from which he graduated in 1951.
There never was any doubt in his mind that he devote his life to the spread of the gospel, so De Vries enrolled in Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1954.
He married Evelyn De Young in 1951. She would be a close partner with Tom in the years of ministry and missions that lay ahead.
The young couple accepted a call to Leighten (Iowa) Christian Reformed Church in 1954. Their ministry in Classis Pella was marked by their deep concern for the well-being of young people.
The call to join Christian Reformed World Missions came in 1958, when they agreed to serve the Iglesia Reformada of Argentina as its missionary pastor. They served in Argentina in a multitude of capacities for the next 20—Tom as a missionary, pastor, teacher, youth leader, and administrator.
Tom’s concerns gradually broadened: he served as president of the Synod of the Reformed Church of Argentina, served as school board president, was a member and later president of the Rotary Club, and served as a member of the city council of Chascomus, in the province of Buenos Aires.
In 1979 the De Vries family moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where Tom became a professor at the Rio Pedras Christian Reformed Seminary and also minister of the Las America CRC. Later he also pastored Fairview CRC.
In 1985, World Missions brought Tom back to the U.S. to profit from his gifts in a number of capacities. Till 1991 Tom was the Latin America general secretary/director for World Missions. From 1991 to 1995 he served as the Eastern Europe and Russia director. While stateside he accepted additional challenges, such as assisting the CRC of Cuba, promoting the Sarospatak Seminary in Hungary, and being an elder in his local church. He retired in 1995.
De Vries will be remembered for his friendly, winsome ways, his pastoral and linguistic skills, his deep love and concern for young people, his passion for church planting and church growth, and his adaptability to constantly changing situations.
He and his wife shared not only their home but also their hearts with everyone in need of hospitality and care.
De Vries is survived by his wife, Evelyn, and their children, Thomas and Liliana De Vries, Ruth Ann and Robert Vander Roest, Karen and Gerald Walcott, David and Kimberly De Vries, Mark and Vilma De Vries, Timothy and Kathy De Vries, and Steven and Erica De Vries, and by 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.