Child of God. That was the most important role John Aupperlee had during his life. He recognized that he was a sinner saved by the grace of Jesus and that his job was to accept that grace and live to glorify his Savior. That role shaped all the other things Aupperlee did and who he became throughout his 74 years. Aupperlee died Aug. 31 after several years of living with cardiac amyloidosis.
After graduating from Calvin College (now University) and Seminary, Aupperlee was ordained in 1974 and then served Midland Park (N.J.) Christian Reformed Church. He went on to pastor Grace CRC in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.; Northern Heights CRC in Kalamazoo, Mich.; and Fairlawn CRC in Whitinsville, Mass. While in Florida he started serving as chaplain in the Air Force Reserve and continued that service for 22 years. In Massachusetts he also served as a chaplain for the Northbridge Fire Department. Aupperlee enjoyed being able to provide comfort, encouragement, and support to the firefighters and service personnel he met through that work. At his last service at Fairlawn, the entire Northbridge Fire Dept. came to church to honor Aupperlee’s work with them. Shortly after the World Trade Center attacks in New York City 20 years ago, Aupperlee was part of a group of chaplains that went to ground zero to provide support in the recovery efforts.
Aupperlee spent the final 13 years of his career as a chaplain at Holland Home in Grand Rapids, Mich., particularly at the Raybrook campus. He retired in 2016.
A good storyteller, Aupperlee also loved sports, bird watching, history, and Handel’s Messiah. He loved spending time with his grandchildren and revelled in seeing who they would become as they grew up.
He is survived by Connie, his wife of 52 years, five children and their spouses, and 12 grandchildren.