Saturday, February 18, 2017


It was brother John's birthday yesterday, his 93rd!  John is Jim's oldest sibling, the oldest of seven children in that family.  Jim is the next to youngest.  We always said that John is the poster boy for how to grow old.  He has always been interested in the people around him, did a lot of volunteering at his church, including meeting with University students from abroad to help them learn English.  He told them, "I know what it's like, because I've been an immigrant too!"

His wife Marian died 10 years ago, but John said, I'm just thankful for all the good years we had together.  She had struggled for years with breast cancer and it was a mercy in the end for her to go.  Jim's whole family is strong in their Christian faith, and that, indeed, takes the sting out of death.  A few years ago John and Marian's only daughter also died from breast cancer, as had Marian's mother many years ago.

Jim was planning to call John to congratulate him on his birthday.  But at 7 a.m. the phone rang.  It was John's oldest son Cory.  His message: "Dad died this morning."  It was a shock.  John had had a massive stroke a few days before and died on the morning of his 93rd birthday.

We celebrate John for the person he was, the good older brother, the good husband and father, the good friend and mentor to so many people.  We are grateful to know he died to this life, to pass on to the next, better life.  Rest in Peace, John!

John and Marian at their wedding in 1956:
There's a nice story about how they met and married.  John's younger brother Peter had gone to Grand Rapids, Michigan to take the schooling necessary to become a pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.  While there he met his sweetheart, Evelyn Wiebenga, who just happened to have a sister named Marian.  When Pete and Ev married, John and Marian met for the first time.  They were taking a walk together between the ceremony and the reception, and John said, "Next year we should get married!"  Marian (either thought) or said: "You're nuts!"  But guess what?  Next year they did get married.  They had forty one good years together.

This is a picture of John in his later years, not sure just how old:


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