Berny Niemeyer lived with Alzheimer’s Disease for more than a decade. Even when he no longer recognized anybody, one memory remained. After dinner, he usually played his harmonica and sang, most often Jesus Loves Me. When all other memories were gone, Jesus remained. Niemeyer died May 20. Thankfully, even in these days of COVID-19, several family members were able to visit him at his care facility to say goodbye prior to his death.
Niemeyer was born in Cicero, Ill., to two Dutch immigrants. Three years after graduating from high school, he left his job as a dairy milker to pursue ministry. He graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1953.
Passionate about his calling as a pastor, Niemeyer worked long hours to faithfully fulfill his responsibilities. After serving his first two churches—Greene Road Christian Reformed Church in Goshen, Ind., and Lamont CRC in Coopersville, Mich.—he felt called to home missions, which led him to church planting: first Sunnyslope CRC in Salem, Ore., and then Life Church West Iglesias Vida in Yakima, Wash. He went on to serve First CRC, Los Angeles, Calif.; Parkland CRC, Portland, Ore.; and The River Church in Allegan, Mich.
Upon retiring in 1991, he and his wife lived in Chula Vista, Calif., for two decades. Their years there were filled with much joy. During that time he served as an elder at Otay Mesa Community church in San Diego, Calif., and filled seven short terms as an interim pastor. Throughout his life, Niemeyer exercised regularly. Volleyball, which was his favorite sport, became a regular part of Niemeyer family reunions.
Niemeyer was predeceased in 2017 by Jean, his wife of 68 years. He is survived by his brother, Chuck, six children, 10 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.