John Koopmans, who died May 11, will be remembered for being genuine, grateful and generous. He was a man of many gifts and interests. Books and photography were an integral part of his life. He had artistic talents that he used in his various ministries. While pastoring one church, for example, he gave chalk talks (a presentation done while the speaker draws) on Saturday mornings to neighborhood children who became fully engaged and fascinated by his beautiful biblical drawings. Also a mechanic, he designed and built a boat and camper trailer to use for family vacations. His love for languages and theology led him to study at Calvin Seminary. He went on to earn a doctorate from the California School of Theology.
After ordination in 1958, Koopmans pastored four congregations: Alymer (Ont.) Christian Reformed Church; Bethel CRC in Brockville, Ont.; Sussex (N.J.) CRC; and Rehoboth CRC in Bellflower, Calif. He then served for 10 years as a chaplain with the Seafarers Ministry of the CRC in the port of Long Beach, Calif., where he met sailors from all over the world. He used his artistic chalk talks as his main method of preaching. He was also involved for many years in prison ministry on Terminal Island, a federal prison in Long Beach, where he created his own unique way of doing Bible studies. He played his harmonica when the prisoners wanted to hear or sing a hymn. Many told him it sounded like music from heaven. He retired in 1992.
Koopmans will be greatly missed by his seven children, 13 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. He was predeceased in 2018 by his wife, Jennie, who was always his partner in ministry.