Simon Wolfert “loved life, loved people, and loved his family. He was funny and made us laugh,” said his family. Throughout his life, even through difficult times of loss and grief, Wolfert was an optimistic and grateful man. After suffering a stroke a few months following retirement, he remained positive.
“With his glass always half full and never half empty,” explained his daughter, “he sat in his wheelchair for 12 years saying he was never alone. ‘Jesus is sitting right next to me in the wheelchair,’ he’d say. What a testament to faith and trust in God he was! From the wheelchair he reached out to people, participated in activities and symposiums, wrote articles, and learned to use the computer, typing with one finger.”
Wolfert died on August 6 in Surrey, B.C. He was 81.
In 1967, after graduating from Calvin Theological Seminary and then obtaining a doctoral degree from The Free University of Amsterdam, Wolfert set out, together with his wife and daughter, to be a missionary in Brazil. There, among other things, Wolfert planted five churches that continue to thrive today. He also pastored Dutch immigrants living in Dutch colonies and struggling to integrate into their new country. The family grew with the adoption of two children. After 18 years in Brazil, Wolfert accepted a call to Grace Christian Reformed Church in Scarborough, Ont. Eight years later, the family moved to Vancouver, where Wolfert served as chaplain for the CRC’s Ministry to Seafarers until his retirement in 2003.
After Wolfert retired, he was asked by the church in Brazil if he could return to help out during the Christmas season. Wolfert and his wife decided to go for four months. However, after two months in Brazil, Wolfert suffered a major stroke and returned to Canada in a wheelchair. He never walked again. In June 2015, following a diagnosis of colon cancer, Wolfert received the news that he had only months to live.
Wolfert will be lovingly remembered by Jean, his wife of 54 years; by their children, Robin and Antonio Cintra, Mark and Mandy Wolfert, Mark and Shannon Waldron; and by five grandchildren. He was predeceased in 2003 by daughter Raquel.