Mechanic, pastor, and poet Walt DeRuiter lived his life according to Micah 6:8. He was also a prayer warrior and is remembered for being “always thankful.” DeRuiter died on September 15 at the age of 81.
As a young man, DeRuiter worked as a laborer on the family farm and neighboring farms in Strathroy, Ont. He later enrolled in an automobile apprenticeship program and was able to purchase a garage in 1967 and begin a successful career as a mechanic.
DeRuiter and his wife, Lydia, were blessed with five children. Sadly, a son died of childhood leukemia. Ten years later, a daughter was killed in a car accident. Following her death, the couple moved to Grand Rapids to attend Reformed Bible College. They graduated together on their 25th wedding anniversary. After an additional year at Calvin Theological Seminary, DeRuiter accepted a call to pastor Williamsburg (Ont.) Christian Reformed Church. He went on to pastor a small emerging church in Hanover, Ont., for five years, and then served Collingwood (Ont.) CRC. In 2000, he retired and moved back to Strathroy.
Until he was 80, DeRuiter continued preaching in Christian Reformed churches as well as officiating at weddings and conducting funerals. At his home church, he was a pastoral elder and a a prayer leader and taught catechism to the youth. He loved to sing and joined the Barbershop Singers. He enjoyed weekly coffee times with a group of male friends. One of the highlights of his retirement was being a volunteer chaplain with Holland America Cruise Lines. This gave him the opportunity to see the world and be a faithful witness to others at the same time.
DeRuiter will be missed by Lydia, his wife of 58 years; their three children and spouses; six grandchildren, and one great-grandson. He was predeceased by son Dickie in 1971 and daughter Carol in 1981.