John Engbers, an accomplished carpenter, avid fisherman, and pastor with an unforgettable sense of humor, died of cancer on August 18 in Rock Valley, Iowa. He was 88.
Engbers proudly served his country as a member of the U.S. Navy during World War II. He subsequently settled with his family in the Pella, Iowa, area and established a successful construction company. During that time Engbers felt called to ministry.
In 1961, he and his family moved to Grand Rapids, Mich., where he attended Calvin College and Seminary. He entered the ministry at age 39, serving the following Christian Reformed congregations: Calvin CRC in Rock Valley, Iowa; Cutlerville (Mich.) East CRC; and Chandler (Minn.) CRC in Minnesota. He retired in 1994 and went on to serve churches around northwest Iowa as an interim pastor. He continued to preach until a few months before his death.
Engbers was a man of many hobbies. Together, he and his wife built their retirement home in Rock Valley. Engbers incorporated many personal flourishes that showed his love for wood. For the past three years the couple spent their summers at a lake near Hackensack, Minn., a place Engbers described as “the closest place to heaven on earth.” Family and friends will remember him perched in the bow of his red Lund, hunched over his favorite saw, or with the day’s crossword puzzle tucked under his arm.
To the very end of his life, even in the midst of pain and discomfort, Engbers maintained his quick wit and sense of humor; he continued to be a source joy to everyone around him. His attitude was a result of his faith and trust in his heavenly Father. Thoroughly prepared for his departure from this earth, he frequently joked that he was “playing in the fourth quarter.”
Engbers is survived by his wife of 67 years, Violet; their children Sheryl and Dennis Van Voorst, Wesley and Glenda Engbers, and Kevin and Linda Engers; and by 10 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.