Although small in stature, Donald Wisse had a large presence. He loved the Christian Reformed Church and his roles of pastor and preacher and continued in these roles long after he retired. Wisse died Feb. 27 at age 91.
Born and raised in Clifton, N.J., Wisse worked at a bakery after high school before pursuing a degree in accounting at Calvin College (now University). Following the Holy Spirit’s leading, he later graduated from Calvin Seminary and was ordained in 1957.
Wisse served Wayland (Mich.) CRC; Family in Christ CRC, Ogden, Utah; and Sunlight Community Church-Lake Worth (Fla.); before pastoring Midland Park (N.J.) CRC for the next 25 years. During his time in Utah, Wisse began serving as chaplain in the United States Air Force Reserves, retiring as a colonel in 1990. At first he served occasional weekends and two weeks of active duty every summer. During his time at Midland Park, he was granted sabbatical leaves that enabled longer stints, such as a year at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama and a month in Greenland.
After retirement in 1995, Wisse served the Lake Worth, Fla., CRC in the winter months for many years, teaching a weekly Bible class, doing pastoral visits and preaching. He was a full-time chaplain at Cedar Crest Retirement community in Riverdale, N.J., from 2006 to 2009. He later taught history and English as a second language in Hungary and taught seminary students in Sudan. Described as a proverbial Energizer Bunny, Wisse was an avid runner in his preretirement years and an avid fast walker in retirement. He had a sweet tooth and enjoyed playing cards with his family, especially Rook. His sense of humor, love of music, and his biblical knowledge and wisdom will be missed by family and friends.
Predeceased by daughter Diane in 2006, Wisse is survived by Ethel, his wife of 68 years; six children and their spouses; 23 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.