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In Memoriam: Rev. Henry (Hank) Zwaanstra


A caring, loving, compassionate, sensitive, and committed husband, father, grandfather, and teacher, Hank Zwaanstra lived his life with academic rigor and a profound deep faith. He was passionate about the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed and Calvinist faith. A thoughtful, knowledgeable, precise, and passionate professor, he delighted in the achievements and successes of his students who served the Lord around the globe. Zwaanstra always told his children and grandchildren, “Value your education. It’s something no one can ever take away from you.” Zwaanstra died on November 26 after a brief illness. He was 80 years old.

A graduate of Calvin College and Theological Seminary as well as the Free University of Amsterdam, Zwaanstra taught church history and historical theology at Calvin Theological Seminary from 1963-2001. During that time, he was also an advocate for the Calvin Prison Initiative and served on the Celebration Fellowship Prison Congregation steering team for a number of years. Although he retired in 2001, Zwaanstra regularly walked the halls of the seminary, visiting with people in the building. 

Zwaanstra loved the outdoors. He hunted deer in northern Michigan, fished in the lakes and rivers of Idaho and Colorado, and enjoyed downhill skiing in the beautiful Colorado Rockies. He also loved to watch the birds in his backyard feeders. Zwaanstra had a quirky sense of humor. A wink and a smile let people know when he was “just kidding.”

Zwaanstra is survived by his wife, Claire; by his children Karl Zwaanstra, Kerrie and Roger DeVries, Matthew and Sheri Zwaanstra; and by five grandchildren.


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