Remembered as a scholar, a dedicated teacher, and one who modeled Jesus Christ in humility and kindness, John Primus had a quiet strength and an unshakeable faith. He was slow to speak and quick to serve. Primus died at Raybrook Manor in Grand Rapids, Mich., on November 5, of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 86.
Born on the family farm in Steamboat Rock, Iowa, Primus initially thought farming would be his lifelong occupation. But after entering and winning a Young Calvinist national oratorical contest, he was inspired to enroll at Calvin College. He went on to graduate from Calvin Theological Seminary and then received a scholarship to the Free (Vrije) University in Amsterdam, where he obtained a doctorate in theology.
After ordination in 1960, Primus entered parish ministry at West Park Christian Reformed Church in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1963 he accepted a faculty position at Calvin College, where he taught for 34 years in the religion and theology department. During these years he also preached, worked on school and church committees, and took sabbaticals for study. He loved to sing, took part in faculty skits, and is remembered for his infectious laugh.
After retirement in 1997, Primus served as interim pastor in Conrad, Mont.; Washington, D.C.; and Grand Rapids, Mich. He taught in Russia, Lithuania, and Kenya. He was an active member of Calvin CRC in Grand Rapids.
Primus will be missed by June, his wife of 63 years; their four children and spouses; 13 grandchildren; and eight great grandchildren.