Rev. Martin Zylstra, 90, was part of the tradition of pastors who assumed responsibility for the entire congregational program. Soft-spoken and gentle in his ways and a promoter of Christian education and missions, he died on October 2 as a result of Parkinson’s disease.
Zylstra, son of Rienk and Johanna Zylstra, was born on a farm near Sully, Iowa. He attended Frogpond Country School near Lynville, Iowa, and nearby Grinnell High School.
Zylstra worked on the family farm until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in September 1942. He was stationed in Hawaii, where he worked in communications as a clerk-typist and a stenographer. During this time in the army, the desire grew in his heart to dedicate his life to the gospel ministry.
Upon discharge from the army he enrolled at Calvin College and subsequently graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in l952.
Zylstra served the following congregations: Clara City (Minn.) CRC, 1952; Brookfield (Wisc.) CRC, 1956; Arcadia CRC, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1963; Highland Avenue CRC, Redlands, Calif., 1971; and Volga (S.D.) CRC, 1981. He retired in l988.
Zylstra is remembered for the faithfulness and dedication with which he performed his pastoral duties, ably assisted by his wife, Carol. His congregations loved them in return. He was also known as an able catechism and Sunday school teacher. Throughout his ministry, Zylstra promoted missions and evangelism. Woodworking and gardening were favorite hobbies. He was at one time a member of the board of Dordt College and attended its first meeting.
Zylstra was predeceased by his wife, Carol, and his daughter Joyce DeKock. He is survived by his children Jim and Josephine Zylstra, Jeanne and Tim Adama, Sharon De Jong, Lois and Craig Lubben, Dan Zylstra, Russ DeKock, and Susan and Bill Haagsma, 17 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.