In Memoriam: Rev. W. Wayne Leys (1944-2021)

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During his 40 years of ministry, Wayne Leys made discipleship a priority. Kind and hospitable, he loved taking people out for breakfast and hearing about their lives—whether they were from the church or the community, guards from the jail or detainees who had been released. “My dad was an amazing listener who God equipped to shepherd people into a deeper relationship with Jesus,” said one of his children. Leys died Jan. 30 after several years of living with Alzheimer’s disease.

A graduate of Calvin College (now University) and Seminary, Leys was ordained in 1969 and went on to pastor the following churches: Cragmor Christian Reformed Church, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Elmhurst (Ill.) CRC; New Hope CRC, Dunwoody, Ga.; Ridgeview Hills CRC, Littleton, Colo.; Community Life CRC, Lockport, Ill.. Additionally, for almost two decades he served as chaplain of the Will County Detention Center in Illinois.

For six years, three of them as president, Leys served the Board of Trustees of the CRCNA (now the Council of Delegates). From 1983 to 1989 he was involved with Home Missions in church revitalization at New Hope Church of Dunwoody in Atlanta, Ga., and also served on the board of Home Missions (now part of Resonate Global Mission). He retired from ministry in 2009.

For the past seven years Leys was a member of RedArrow Ministries, a CRC in Paw Paw, Mich., led by his daughter and son-in-law. Through the years Leys memorized Scripture while he jogged. People around Zeeland, Mich., knew him as the man jogging while flipping through his cards. Even when his Alzheimer’s worsened, Leys could still sing hymns and repeat memory verses.

Leys is survived by Christine, his partner in ministry and wife for 54 years, three children and spouses, and 13 grandchildren, who will deeply miss his love, laughter and the twinkle in his eyes.

About the Author

A former nurse and chaplain, Janet Greidanus is a freelance news correspondent and long-time writer of the In Memoriam column for The Banner.