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Harry Van Dam

December 13, 1931 ~ February 4, 2018 (age 86)

Harry Andrew Van Dam… was born on Dec. 13, 1931, to Gerrit and Dorothy (Kooiman) Van Dam near Chandler, Minn.  He attended a one-room schoolhouse near Woodstock, Minn., and finished the eighth grade. He then farmed with his dad.

In 1952, Harry was drafted by the military and joined the Army.  The following year, he married his childhood sweetheart, Tressa Van Heuvelen.  In Georgia, they became deeply engaged in leading Bible study.  This was the beginning of their life-long ministry together.

After the Army, they returned to Woodstock where Harry farmed with his dad.  In 1957, Harry heard God’s call to ministry and left for Calvin College. Besides going to school full time, he supported his family with his own business – snow plowing. He graduated in 1961 with a degree in Classical Languages, and enrolled in Calvin Theological Seminary. He graduated in 1964 with a Masters of Divinity.  After this, Harry moved his family to Pasadena, Calif., where he studied at Fuller Theological Seminary, earning a Masters in Pastoral Counseling. 

In 1965, Harry was ordained into the Christian Reformed Church and began his missionary career at the Valley CRC in Albuquerque, N. Mex.  In 1969, he moved the family to Tempe, Ariz., to Cook Christian Training School where he served as the school’s counselor/chaplain and later the Dean of Students.  In 1977, Harry took a call to Denver, Colo., to be the pastor at The Christian Indian Center, a Native American congregation.  In 1984, Harry and Tressa moved back to Phoenix, Ariz., where he served as a chaplain at the Calvary Rehabilation Center, a Christian facility for alcohol and drug rehab.  He retired in 1997, and Tressa and Harry returned to their childhood home in Edgerton.  

Though retired, he and his wife continued their ministry with small churches on the Navajo Reservation. In 2003, Tressa passed away.  Harry then volunteered as a chaplain during the winter months at Green Oak Ranch in Southern Calif., a Christian drug and alcohol rehab. 

In 2008, Harry wed Carolyn Vander Haar in Edgerton.  They spent many happy winters in Mesa, Ariz., and summers in Edgerton, visiting family and friends.

Harry had a heart for the down and out, especially those with addictions.  He believed in a Gospel that was “deed oriented.”  He ministered to the deep and urgent physical, emotional, and spiritual needs that only God’s mercy can heal.  He was strong in his faith and had a manner of winsome and straight talk when sharing the wisdom of God’s Word.

On January 1, 2018, Harry entered the hospital with pneumonia.  He passed away on Sunday, February 4, at the age of 86.  He is lovingly remembered by his wife, Carolyn Van Dam; the children: Elaine and Craig Scheirman, Gerry and Tammy Van Dam, Tim and Jana Van Dam, Howard and Ruth Van Dam, Mark and Priscilla Van Dam, David and Debbie Van Dam, Lynda Schneider and Edward Gagarin, and Jeff Vander Haar; 25 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.  Harry is also survived by four sisters: Wilma Grootwasink, Gertrude and Harold Jasper, Dorothy Van Essen, and Carol and Marvin Struiksma.  He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Tressa, and his sister, Alice Van Essen.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to: 
Chandler and Edgerton Christian Schools MN, Manhatten Christian School MT, and Paradise Valley Christian Prep, AZ

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