Wilmer Roy Witte was blessed with a keen mind, intellectual curiosity, enthusiasm for life, and a desire to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Rev. Leonard Hofman, a lifelong friend since college days, described Witte as “a careful interpreter of the Bible, a good exegete—faithful to the text and also to the Reformed faith.” A gifted speaker, Witte memorized his sermons and preached without notes. “Those who listened to him learned a great deal about the Word of God,” said Hofman.
Witte died on May 10 after complications from a fall. He was 88.
Witte graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1951, the youngest in his class. After marrying his wife, Ruth, they headed to Iowa to serve Ackley Christian Reformed Church. They were startled and then amused to note how many of the parishioners were named “George.” They affectionately nicknamed one another “George,” a nickname that stuck for all the years of their life together.
Witte later went on to serve the following Christian Reformed congregations: Walker (Mich. ) CRC; Pillar CRC in Holland, Mich.; Western Springs (Ill.) CRC; and Mayfair CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich. He retired in 1993.
With what has been described as a “radio voice,” Witte participated in radio ministry during his time in Holland and Western Springs. In Western Springs he also helped introduce the concept of Mission Emphasis Week. Prior to and during retirement, Witte faithfully served the denomination on boards, committees, at synod, and by preaching whenever called upon.
Witte enjoyed playing golf with his wife, his children and grandsons, and with ministerial colleagues. If he had a shortcoming as a golfer, they say, it was his refusal to take mulligans and his insistence on counting all of his strokes.
Among those mourning his loss are Ruth, his wife of 64 years; their children Lin Witte, Curtis and Ruth Witte, Kevin and Vicki Witte, and three grandchildren. He was predeceased by his youngest child, Gayla Witte, and son-in-law, Jeff Gschwind, Sr.