Wednesday, October 28, 2020
11:00 AM EDT
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
PO Box 141312
Grand Rapids, MI 49514
Life Story / Obituary
There is no doubt that Reverend John DeVries loved his family. A wonderful husband, father, grandfather, and mentor to many, he leaves behind a beautiful example of living life to the fullest and giving selflessly to the faithful community. With many small acts of love and large acts of sacrifice, he gave his everything to the family he loved. He will be deeply missed and fondly remembered by all who knew and loved him.
John’s story begins in the midst of the 1930s when the nation was bouncing back from tough economic times. His parents, John and Sophie (Bolt) DeVries welcomed his arrival on December 3, 1936, in Galesburg, Illinois. Born the second oldest of four boys, his birth brought great joy and happiness into the family home.
When John was very young, his family relocated to Grand Rapids when his father took a job teaching chemistry at Calvin College. His mother was a wonderful homemaker always taking care of her boys when they returned home from Oakdale Christian. As a family, they treasured making many long lasting memories at their cottage on Gun Lake. These early childhood memories account for John’s passion with fishing that lasted throughout his lifetime. Raised with a strong Christian foundation, John was drawn to serve the Lord at a young age and innately interested in becoming a preacher. As a teen, he worked at the local grocery store, Bernie’s, helping to pay his own tuition to attend Grand Rapids Christian High School. A proud member of the Glee Club he graduated with the Class of 1953. Eager as well as ambitious, he set off for Calvin College in pursuit of achieving his dream as a minister.
Not to be forgotten was the meeting of Adelaide “Atts” Veltema when he was a freshman on Calvin’s campus. She was working at the school coffee shop, and although she was a junior, it was love at first sight for John. Without hesitation he asked her out to a local Grand Rapids hockey game. Sitting high up in the bleachers, he felt as though nothing could top that moment and after a short time of dating, he proposed! The happy couple were married on June 11, 1958 at First Hudsonville Christian Reformed Church. After their beautiful ceremony, the newlyweds set off on their honeymoon to Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, which included a stop at Tahquamenon Falls. Returning back home, they rented an apartment on Thomas Street SE. Atts taught first grade at Seymour Christian while John was enrolled at the Calvin Seminary. Eager to start a family, they welcomed home their son, Steve during these years. Right before John took his first call to Luverne Christian Reformed Church in Minnesota, they added their son, Mike. While in Luverne, daughter Debbie joined the family. Before they established any roots there, John was already on his second call to Hope Christian Reformed Church in Grandville, Michigan. During his years at Hope, they welcomed their daughter Mary, who completed their family.
John’s career really took off in the late sixties causing him to travel all over the world. He was working for the World Home Bible League out of South Holland, Illinois. These were very busy years for both him and Atts, yet they savored them all the same. As a family, they enjoyed camping trips to state parks and trips out west. John preached on Sundays at Bible camps allowing the family to travel and enjoy time together. He also preached in Florida during Christmas vacation, giving them a warm holiday together. Stretched thin with work and travel, they savored their time at their cottage on Payne Lake. Any amount of time that he could boat or fish, his heart was content. A lover of perch and bluegill, John enjoyed hosting countless fish fries over the years.
Nothing quite prepared him for his first trip to India in 1971. The smell of India never left him whenever he thought of that trip and for the several that followed. There was nothing like the mix of the heat, the crowds, the lack of plumbing, and the endless curry in the air. By 1977, he took another call to Highland Hills Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids and also began work on founding Mission India. While working for Mission India, John had found his passion. By 1983, he had accepted the CEO position at Mission India. His commitment and dedication from his work and fundraising, made him a very prominent figure within the global church community. Well read and passionate about his calling, he went on to publish several books including his most popular book, Why Pray?
Despite his bypass surgery and resulting heart attack in the late nineties, he never really slowed down from his involvement with preaching and his leadership role within the greater faith community. Committed to his family, he remained active in their lives. John lived his life with great enthusiasm for evangelism, yet above all else, his grandchildren were his deepest blessings. He never missed a graduation or special celebration and traveled to see each of his grandchildren accomplish their many successes. He relished in teaching them his love of the great outdoors and visited them throughout the United States and beyond. Even as his health began to decline in recent years suffering from strokes, he never took a single day for granted. A true fighter, John battled bladder cancer and after surgery to remove the tumor, he spent five weeks in rehabilitation. Sadly, he is gone, yet his memories will surely endure in the hearts of the countless lives he touched over the years, especially those of his loving family.
John Fredric DeVries, age 83, went to be with his Lord on Sunday, October 25, 2020 at 11:30 am, surrounded by his loving family. He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Adelaide DeVries (nee Veltema). He is also survived by his children, Steve and Lori DeVries, Mike and Michelle DeVries, Debbie DeVries, Mary and Bruce Dykstra, by his brothers, Jim and Judy DeVries and Bob DeVries and Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge, as well as many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brother, George DeVries. John’s life was a passionate dedication to “go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19). From pastoring churches, to his work at the World Home Bible League, to starting Mission India, his passion never wavered. He was recently named a Distinguished Alumnus from Calvin Theological Seminary. When John wasn’t preaching he was fishing, and frying fish for his children and grandchildren. Public visitation (masks and social distancing required) will be held on Tuesday, October 27 from 1:00-3:00 pm and from 6:00-8:00 pm, at Plymouth Heights Christian Reformed Church. A private family service will be held on Wednesday, October 28 at 11:00 am. The service will be live streamed at www.phcrc.org. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Mission India. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to submit a favorite memory, photo, or to sign the guestbook online.