Described as modest, humble, gentle, and super organized, Fred Heslinga had a great sense of humor and a wonderful ability to laugh at himself. Although he had endured cancer for nine years, with periods of remission, Fred’s death Sept. 26 was the result of a brain bleed after hitting his head in a fall. He was 77.
A former roommate from seminary days said in a tribute, “We called him ‘Steady Freddy.’ He was a man you could count on.” Another friend and colleague said, “I appreciated his ‘just being there’ and his interest in others, including myself. His patience with others, strugglers or achievers, exhibited a Christ-like commitment.”
When Fred was 5 years old, he emigrated with his family from Friesland, the Netherlands, and settled in southern Ontario where he lived until leaving to study at Calvin College (now University) and Seminary. Ordained in 1972, Fred then served the following congregations: Athens (Ont.) Christian Reformed Church; Kelowna (B.C.) CRC; Orangeville (Ont.) CRC; First CRC in Hamilton, Ont.; Ottewell CRC in Edmonton, Alta.; and Essex (Ont.) CRC, after which he retired.
Retirement didn’t last long. Seeking a continued sense of purpose, Fred became part-time pastor of visitation at Grace CRC in Chatham, Ont., in 2013 and the role brought him much joy until his death.
Fred very much loved and was attentive to his grandchildren, always asking about school, cheering them on, reading books to them, and being quick to sit with them and play a game. He was thrilled when he was blessed with great-grandchildren.
Predeceased in 2018 by his wife, Ella, Fred is survived by his three children and their spouses, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.