World War II veteran, military policeman, minister, chaplain, pastoral counselor, and missionary Ben Ypma lived a full and joyful life. “As for turning 100,” said one article about him, “it’s simply a number to Ypma. He still drives himself around, takes but one pill a day, and just a few years ago agreed to teach an exercise class when the instructor had to step down.” Ypma died on March 7, a month after his hundredth birthday.
Ypma was drafted into the Army in 1941. He was stationed in Brisbane, Australia, as a military police officer and was a bodyguard for General Douglas MacArthur. While serving in New Guinea he got a severe case of jungle rot, a painful infection of the feet, and was at Walter Reed Hospital for a year.
After graduation from Calvin College and Seminary and ordination in 1952, Ypma and his wife served as missionaries in India, Japan, and Korea. He pastored First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Haven, Mich., and Bauer CRC in Hudsonville, Mich. He then trained in pastoral counseling at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services and became a counselor at Koinonia Medical Center in Muskegon, Mich., until 1995. During that time he also worked as a probation officer, substance abuse counselor, and bailiff for the Ottawa County Court. He served part-time at World Vision and Fruitport (Mich.) CRC. For decades he also enjoyed working at his son's tree nursery.
Ypma never retired, said one of his daughters. “His active hobby was to serve others, in service to Jesus. He never stopped witnessing. He drove others to church and doctors and visited those who were housebound—whether in person, by phone, or in the many letters he wrote.”
He was preceded in death by Marjorie, his first wife of 54 years, and by Ruth, his second wife of 12 years. He is survived by his two daughters and their spouses, seven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.