Rev. Raymond Opperwall, a vital churchman, a theologian with broad cultural interests, an articulate and assertive spokesman for the faith, and an avid sports enthusiast, passed to glory on Palm Sunday, March 16.
Opperwall was born in Northbridge, Mass., and grew up in nearby Mendon, where he attended grade school and high school. Soon after graduation he entered the US Navy, where he participated in the officers’ training program.
Upon entering Calvin College, Opperwall enrolled in the pre-med course, but found his heart increasingly drawn toward the gospel ministry. He enrolled in Calvin Seminary in 1949, from which he graduated in 1952. He married Helen Brondsema in 1948.
The young couple began their ministry in the Christian Reformed Church of Racine, Wisc., in 1952. They moved to New Jersey in 1961 to serve the CRC of Ridgewood. After 12 years of ministry there, they accepted a call to the Olentangy CRC of Columbus, Ohio, where they served from 1973 to l986.
For the next four years Opperwall was an interim specialist with the Christian Reformed Board of Home Missions serving churches in transition.
The Opperwalls retired in 1990. After his retirement, Ray continued a variety of ministerial activities.
Opperwall was a man of broad interests, and was well-informed beyond theology. Gifted with a sharp mind, he cherished meaningful discussions and defended his insights with vigor. His churches remember him as a diligent pastor and a vital preacher. Opperwall was known for his strong convictions in matters of social justice. He served the denomination at the classical and synodical levels.
Opperwall loved all kinds of sports, and helped coach his children’s teams from their early years on.
During the last several years Opperwall suffered from a degenerative condition that deprived him of the ability to move and to speak, but he bore his trials with increased grace and patience.
Opperwall is survived by his wife, Helen, and their children Nola and Vincent Galluch, Kathleen Opperwall, Theodore Opperwall, Stephen Opperwall, Arthur and Barbara Opperwall, Jonathan and Kristin Lawrence, Laurel and Daniel Medenblik, and 12 grandchildren.