Pastor, missionary, chaplain, and counselor, Harry Van Dam was open, honest, kind and thoughtful. He had a heart for the destitute, especially for people with addictions. Van Dam, 86, died on February 4 at Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, S.D.
After finishing eighth grade, Van Dam farmed with his father. In 1952, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. The following year he married his childhood sweetheart, Tressa Van Heuvelen, and returned to farming until he heard God’s call to ministry. He enrolled at Calvin College in 1957 and, while studying full-time, supported the family with his snow-plowing business. He graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1964 and then completed a master’s degree in pastoral counseling at Fuller Theological Seminary.
After ordination in 1965, Van Dam served as pastor at Valley CRC in Albuquerque, N.M.; as counselor, chaplain, and dean of students at Cook Christian Training School in Tempe, Ariz.; and as pastor at Christian Indian Center in Denver, Col. In 1984, he started 12 years of service as chaplain at Calvary Rehabilitation Center in Phoenix, Ariz., a Christian facility for recovery from alcohol and drug addictions.
Van Dam retired in 1997. He and his wife continued their ministry with small churches on the Navajo reservations around Denver. After she died in 2003, Van Dam volunteered as a chaplain during the winter months at Green Oak Ranch in Southern California. In 2008, he married Carolyn Vander Haar, with whom he spent many happy winters in Mesa, Ariz., and summers in Edgerton, Min., visiting family and friends.
Van Dam will be missed by his wife, Carolyn, and by their blended family of 8 children, 25 grandchildren, and 8 great grandchildren.