April 5, 1933 – January 3, 2010
Rev. Willard De Vries, 76, a man of steadfast diligence in ministry and gentle humor, friend of the people he served, and active in the church at large, died on January 3 following some years of failing health and pneumonia.
De Vries was born in Randolph, Wis., the seventh of nine children of immigrant parents from Friesland, The Netherlands. He attended the Christian elementary and high schools in Randolph. Even as a youngster he felt the call to prepare for the gospel ministry.
He graduated from Calvin College in l955 and Calvin Theological Seminary in l958, and was then ordained into ministry in the Christian Reformed Church.
The first congregation he served was Brooten, Minn., and it was during his stay there that he married Alice Snapper of Lynden, Wash.
Subsequently they served the following congregations: Bethel CRC, Oskaloosa, Iowa, l962; First CRC, Hull, Iowa, 1967; Moline (Mich.) CRC, 1972; Holland Center CRC, Lodgepole, S.D., 1990. They retired in l998.
De Vries is remembered as a pastor of devout diligence. His regular pastoral visits were highly appreciated. Preaching and teaching received his careful attention. From the beginning of his ministry he preached from memory, never needing to consult his notes.
He delighted in the gifts of individual church members and encouraged them to put those gifts to use. He took pride in remaining fluent in Dutch and Frisian throughout his life and preaching in those languages occasionally.
De Vries was deeply interested in broader church and kingdom concerns. He participated in several synodical meetings and served on the CRC’s Board of Publications as well as on the boards of Calvin College and Seminary and of Dordt College—the latter as its president for six years.
He wrote Bible study outlines on the letters and Revelation of John. Following his retirement he served Christ’s Community Church of Chandler, Ariz., as its interim pastor.
De Vries is survived by his wife, Alice; their children Margaret and Warren Rice, Kate and Jon Fuller; and three grandchildren.