Harold H. De Vries, 89, of Peoria, passed away Sunday, May 19, 2019, at Pella Regional Health Center. Funeral services were held Saturday, May 25, at 10:30 a.m. at Peoria Christian Reformed Church. Interment with military honors by Van Veen-Van Hemert American Legion Post No. 89 of Pella was at the Peoria Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested for Peoria Christian School.
Harold Henry De Vries was born Jan. 24, 1930, at home on a farm three miles north of Peoria. He was the oldest of four children of Wiebe and Gertrude (Bennink) De Vries. Harold attended Peoria Christian School where he graduated from the eighth grade.
As teenagers, Harold and five other young people were given permission to attend their church’s Young People’s Convention in Grand Rapids, MI. Harold did not know it at the time, but among those teenagers was his wife-to-be, Leona Mae Langstraat.
Harold and Leona were married Nov. 24, 1950, in Oskaloosa. June 1951, Harold was drafted into the United States Army where he served in the Korean War as a tank commander. Leona was able to accompany him to Fort Knox, KY, where they lived together until January 1952 when Harold departed for Korea. Harold saw and experienced many horrific sights and sounds of war, but remained strong in his faith. During the time Harold was stationed in Korea, Leona lived with Harold’s parents. July 2, 1952, the first of their eight children, Harlan Wayne, was born. Mar. 7, 1953, Leona’s birthday, Sergeant De Vries received word he was being discharged and would be coming home. He and Leona began farming and soon bought four milk cows and a John Deere tractor. He and his brother, Syburn De Vries, farmed their father’s farm together.
During the next 14 years, they were blessed with seven more children: Larry Eugene, Dennis Lee, Patricia Joy, Bryce Allen, Wavern Glen, Kevin Ray, and Kimberly June. Harold supplemented their family income by trucking for Peoria Stockyards as well as being a substitute milk truck driver. Harold milked cows until their dairy barn was struck by lightning and burned down in 2004. This was a sad day for the family and ended the dairy aspect of farming for Harold and Leona. They remained on the farm, and Harold and Bryce continued to farm together until Harold’s health would no longer allow him to do so at the age of 87 years.
Leona suffered a stroke in November 2017, which necessitated that she live at Jefferson Place in Pella. Harold, with assistance from Bryce, visited her every afternoon.
Harold and Leona went on several memorable vacations to visit family and friends. They traveled to Alaska, California, Florida, Washington, and British Columbia to enjoy the ocean, mountains, and other scenery. In 1961, they became members of Peoria Christian Reformed Church. Harold served many terms on the consistory and was a strong believer in Christian education. He served on boards and committees for Peoria Christian School, Pella Christian High School, and Dordt College in Sioux Center. Harold lived a life of service to his Lord and Savior and was a man of few words; however, what he said was meaningful and thought provoking.
Harold and Leona were richly blessed with 68 years of life together as Leona survives him along with a large, loving family: Harlan (Donna) De Vries of Orange City, Larry (Rosie) De Vries of Pella, Dennis (Bev) De Vries of Pella, Pat (Stan) Dykstra of Pella, Bryce De Vries of Peoria, Wavern (Bev) De Vries of Pella, Kevin De Vries of Lynden, WA, and Kimberly (Brian) Vander Berg of Sioux Center; 19 grandchildren, and 47 great-grandchildren. Harold is also survived by one brother and two sisters: Syburn (Judy) De Vries of Pella, Gertrude Visser of Grand Rapids, MI, Joyce Heynen of Hull; along with sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law: Emily (William) Dieleman of Bella Vista, AR, Henry Junior (Cynthia) Langstraat of Otley, Terry (Coral) Langstraat of Melstone, MT, and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a stepmother, Gerdena (Vreeman/De Boer) De Vries; a great-grandson, Collin De Vries; his brothers-in-law: Bob Visser and William Heynen; his parents-in-law, Henry and Nellie Langstraat; and a sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Agnes (Langstraat) and Ray Van Weelden.