Rev. Gerald Van Oyen, 81, winsome in all his ways, faithful witness of his Savior, and musically and mechanically gifted, passed away on May 10 while bird watching in Ohio, from an apparent heart attack.
Van Oyen was born in Chicago Heights, Ill., where he attended the Christian school and Illiana Christian High School. Cherishing the desire to serve his Lord in the gospel ministry, he attended Calvin College and Seminary, graduating in 1957.
Van Oyen served the following Christian Reformed congregations: Hills (Minn.) CRC; Calvary CRC in Pella, Iowa; Twelfth Street CRC, in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Covenant CRC in Cutlerville, Mich.; Pine Gate Community CRC, also in Cutlerville; and Caledonia (Mich.) CRC. He also served briefly as a missionary to Mexico. He retired in 1994.
Van Oyen’s retirement years were filled with busy volunteer activities. For several years, while in Florida, he engaged in a multitude of services for church and Kingdom.
Van Oyen was as multi-gifted as he was restlessly busy for his Lord. It was said of him that he never let an opportunity go by without witnessing for Christ. He conducted his ministry with purpose, resolution, passion, and self-deprecation. Once, when he crossed the border into Mexico with a load of Bibles, the border officials had him jailed for a seven days. He witnessed to the guards, one of whom accepted Christ. He was a friend of the needy. His grandchildren meant the world to him.
Van Oyen’s parishioners continued to be intrigued with the scope of his skills. There were few musical instruments he could not play. He was a fine singer¸ an accomplished bird photographer, a splendid wood-carver. He loved riding motorcycles. He owned a three-wheeled Gold Wing. His technical skills enabled him to solve most any mechanical problem.
Van Oyen is survived by his wife Ellen and their children: Lori and Henry Smitter; Michael and Sharon Van Oyen, Fran Van Ek, and Joel and Eileen Van Oyen, 17 grandchildren, and a great grandbaby due in July.
About the Author
Louis Tamminga is the Banner's writer of In Memoriams for pastors.