William J. Zylstra, 87, passed over into the presence of his Lord and Savior on Wednesday morning, June 11, 2014, at his residence in Sully. Funeral services were held June 16 at Sully Christian Reformed Church. Interment was in Sully Cemetery. Memorials in his memory may be designated for The Gideon’s International.
William John Zylstra was born on Mar. 27, 1927, near Grinnell. He was the second of nine children born to Paul and Gertie (Vanden Hoek) Zylstra. Bill, as he was known, received his grade school education in country schools and graduated from Sully High School. His mother, Gertie, died when Bill was 17 years of age, and being the oldest sibling, he assisted his father, Paul, in raising his younger brothers and sisters. Bill met Bertha Gertrude Fopma, who worked for his family, and they were united in marriage on Jan. 22, 1948, at the Sully Christian Reformed Church. Their marriage of 66 years was made special by raising five children. Bill and Bertha farmed 34 years until 1982 when they exchanged residences with their son, Roger, and his family. Farming was an integral part of Bill’s life and although he retired from farming, he never really retired. After moving into Sully, he was employed at the Sully Cooperative Exchange, worked for the City of Sully, and for 10 years he and Bertha were the custodians at the Sully Christian School. He was active with The Gideons and enjoyed fishing, reading, and traveling. Bill served his community by serving on the Sully City Council, as a member of the Sully Lions Club and the Farm Bureau, and was active in local politics. Bill was baptized, made profession of his faith, and remained a faithful member of the Sully Christian Reformed Church where he had served as Sunday School Superintendent and also sang in the choir and was a willing volunteer for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. Bill was truly a man of the Lord.
Bill is survived by his wife, Bertha G. (Fopma) Zylstra and their five children: Roger (Carolyn) Zylstra of Lynnville, Glenn (Nancy) Zylstra of Sully, Beverly (John) Coombs of Latimer, Phyllis Zylstra of Sully, Joyce (Michael) Ingram of Altoona; 17 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; three brothers: P. Marvin (Celia) Zylstra of Pella, Wendall (Dorothy) Zylstra of Sully, and Claude (Joan) Zylstra of Pella; and one sister, Delores (Gary) Van Rees of Sully; a sister-in-law, Nellie Zylstra, and a brother-in-law, Gareth P. Vande Kieft both of Pella; along with the following brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law: Richard and Marge Fopma of Pella, Clarine (Fopma) Van Kooten of Sully, Lois (Fopma) and Norman Van Wyk of Pella.
Bill was preceded in death by his grandson, Shawn Zylstra, in 1976; his parents; and the following siblings, his oldest sister Bertha Eunice who died in 1927, his brother Carol who died at birth in 1939, his sister Mary Lou and her husband Merle Van Steenis in 1989, his brother Orville Zylstra on Aug. 13, 2013, and his sister-in-law Judy (Claude) Zylstra.