In Memoriam: Rev. Neal Roger Rylaarsdam (1944-2020)

In Memoriam: Rev. Neal Roger Rylaarsdam (1944-2020)
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Neal Rylaarsdam was approachable, he loved blessing others and making people laugh. His PowerPoint sermons were practical and memorable. He was renowned for his special cinnamon buns and enjoyed playing piano for hymn-sings. Rylaarsdam died June 4, following complications from heart surgery.

When Rylaarsdam was born on D-Day, June 6, 1944, in Sumas, Wash., the hospital staff, distracted by the radio news, temporarily switched him at birth with a Canadian baby.

In his youth, Rylaarsdam participated in Youth Unlimited’s first Alaska SWIM (Summer Workshops in Missions) team, returning home with a Siberian Husky. He later graduated from Calvin College and Seminary, where he sang in the choir. After ordination in 1972, he pastored the following Christian Reformed congregations: Fairlawn, Whitinsville, Mass.; Winfield (Ill.); Quincy, (Wash.); Bauer, Hudsonville, Mich.; and Lexington Green Community, Portage, Mich.  For the last 14 years of his ministry he served 12 different congregations as a Specialized Transitional Pastor.

In retirement, the Rylaarsdams swam, traveled, and played cards. Additionally, he enjoyed painting, Instant Pot cooking, and organizing fundraising cook-offs. An avid genealogist, he assisted many in exploring their ancestry.

Rylaarsdam is survived by Glenda, his wife of 55 years; three children; their spouses; and nine grandchildren.

About the Author

Janet Greidanus is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta.