Henry Ryn De Bolster, child of God, was not a man of great physical stature. But he was tall in presence and influence, bold in spirit, and strong in conviction. Many describe him as possessing a “righteous stubbornness.” After a terrible fall and a subsequent stroke, De Bolster died at Hamilton General Hospital on April 22. He was 89.
De Bolster was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He was 13 when the city was bombed in 1940. Later, when the Nazis shot his only sibling, an older brother in the Dutch resistance, they left his body on the family doorstep as a warning to others. At age 16, De Bolster stepped in to fill his brother’s resistance duties.
In 1952, after training as a bookkeeper, De Bolster and his wife emigrated to Canada. He initially joined the office staff at the Steel Company of Canada and then became the office manager at Algoma Steel Company in its Hamilton, Ont., sales office before heeding the call to ministry.
In 1959, after a year of study at Knox College in Toronto, De Bolster moved with his family to Grand Rapids to attend Calvin Theological Seminary. He graduated, was ordained in 1962, and went on to serve the following Christian Reformed congregations: Immanuel CRC in Brampton, Ont.; Emmanuel CRC in Calgary, Alta.; and Maranatha CRC in St. Catharines, Ont.
De Bolster returned to Hamilton in 1981 to serve as founding president of Redeemer College (now Redeemer University College), a position he held until his retirement in 1994. Until his last days, De Bolster participated in Redeemer events and remained a strong supporter and prayer warrior on Redeemer’s behalf. In 2004, he was conferred an honorary doctorate of divinity from McMaster University for being a pioneer of Canadian Christian higher education. In 2015, he received Calvin Seminary’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Predeceased by his wife, Cobie, in 2013, De Bolster is survived by their five children and their spouses: Geri and Marty VanEngen, Bert and Jane De Bolster, Nel Straatsma, Len and Elaine De Bolster, and Joanne and Jim Teeuwsen, and by 15 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.