Rev. Jacob (Jake) P. Boonstra, 86, U.S. Navy veteran, compassionate and well-read pastor, and writer of 1,448 sermons, passed away on February 27 after a stroke.
Boonstra was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., and, as a child, moved with his family to Paterson, N.J., where he attended Riverside Christian School and Eastern Christian High School. At 17 he joined the U.S. Navy, dutifully serving his country well through the end of World War II. He was stationed in Corpus Christi, Texas, guarding the U.S. borders and did a brief stint in the Panama Canal region.
Boonstra attended Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1953.
He served the following Christian Reformed congregations: Cascade Fellowship CRC, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Twelfth St. CRC, Grand Rapids, Mich.; First CRC, Cicero, Ill.; Hillcrest CRC, Denver; Plainfield CRC, Rockford, Mich.; and Tracy (Iowa) CRC. He retired in l992, but continued to serve several churches on an interim basis.
Boonstra’s ministry followed the pattern set by CRC pastors for generations: he preached twice each week, taught catechism classes, led Bible study groups, conducted funerals, and faithfully visited members in need in the congregations he served.
All the while he kept up studies and reading. Among his colleagues he was known and appreciated for his helpfulness and friendship. He was delegated to the CRC’s annual synod several times, and at age 80 was elected stated clerk of Classis Rocky Mountain.
Boonstra loved people. He recognized their gifts and services and had a way of making them feel valued. A wonderful family man, the family enjoyed many camping trips. He loved and played many sports but none more so than golf (four holes-in-one), and baseball/softball (the Yankees being the family’s favorite team).
Boonstra was predeceased in 2009 by Angelina, his first wife, with whom he shared 60 years of marriage.
He is survived by his second wife, Virginia Visser. He is also survived by his children Glenn and Doris Boonstra, Doug and Gwen Boonstra, Ken and Anita Boonstra, Ron and Audrey Boonstra, Eileen McKeever, and 13 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.