Rev. William Buursma, 87, by nature shy and introverted, was highly gifted as a pastor, preacher, churchman, and linguist. He passed away on July 6 following a prolonged struggle with dementia.
Buursma was the oldest of a family of five children in the Dutch province of Friesland. The family came to the United States in 1929, the dawn of the Great Depression, and settled in Holland, Mich. There he attended grade school and Christian high school. After high school graduation, he served in the U.S. Army as part of the Army’s 100th infantry division and saw action in Europe during World War II.
Following his time in the Armed Forces, Buursma attended Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1952.
He and his wife served the following Christian Reformed congregations: Strathroy (Ontario); First CRC, Munster, Ind.; Bethel CRC, Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Third CRC, Kalamazoo, Mich. He retired in 1991.
Buursma brought honor and beauty to the ministerial office. He loved his Sender, was a serious student of the Word, and was widely read. He was also a fine linguist who was known to have preached in three languages. Prayer meant much to Bill. One parishioner spoke for many when he said, “When he led us to the throne of grace, I felt I was in the presence of God.”
Buursma cherished the Reformed expressions of the Christian faith but was also warmly ecumenical in spirit. He supported the institutions of the denomination. The denominational periodical, The Banner, benefited greatly from his gifts. He was deeply loyal toward Calvin College and Seminary and encouraged many young people to seek their education there. He was also an active member of the college’s Alumni Association Board. Among his personal interests were music and gardening.
Buursma was preceded in death by his wife, Althea, in 2010, and by their daughter, Sheri, in 2006. He is survived by his children Bruce and Judy Buursma, Dirk and Harriet Buursma, Mark and Debbie Buursma, and by 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.