Hal Bode had a love for people, especially those who were burdened by the difficulties of life. He devoted his time, energy, wisdom, and knowledge to make chaplaincy an important part of the Christian Reformed Church. Bode died on Nov. 26 at the age of 88.
The youngest of six children, Bode’s early life, work, and education were bracketed by the Great Depression and World War II. After his graduation from Calvin College and Seminary, he was ordained in 1956. He served Lakeview CRC in South Dakota and Kanawha CRC in Iowa before becoming a chaplain in the United States Air Force in 1962.
In the military, Bode served in Florida, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, the Philippines, Thailand, Greenland, and Ohio. Bode’s military service ended as a result of the largest ever Reduction in Force following the Vietnam War. In 1974 he became the first full-time director of Chaplaincy Ministries for the CRC.
“Hal was our mentor and pastor as we struggled to be faithful to our calling,” said one of many chaplains who describe being richly blessed by Bode’s care for them. “Hal’s encouragement over the years played a large role in my decision to be an army chaplain in the Reserves,” said another.
Bode also lived with the conviction that the Lord had called him to support and promote chaplaincy ministry beyond the denomination, which prompted him to hold positions of leadership in several national professional organizations dedicated to training and certifying chaplains. Bode retired in 1994.
His first wife, Mary, died of cancer in 1973 at the age of 43. In 1975, he married Helen Vander Molen, a widow with three young children, and they began raising a large blended family together.
Bode is survived by Helen and by six children and their spouses, 11 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.