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Clarence Zylstra

March 23, 1930 December 7, 2019
Clarence Zylstra
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Obituary for Clarence Zylstra

Clarence Zylstra of Lynden passed away Saturday, December 7, 2019. Clarence was born 3/23/30 to Franke and Greit Zijlstra, at Oppenhuizen, The Netherlands. He was named Klaas by his parents, but upon immigration to US, his naturalization name became Clarence Zylstra. As a youth he lived under occupation by the Germans, witnessing man’s inhumanity to man. His parents were part of the resistance during WWII, like many of the people of Holland. His experiences during this time were formative in future life choices, including his decision to teach history. His dream was to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem; this was fulfilled in 2010.

Clarence is survived by his wife Heather McCracken, whom he married in 2008. Children Frank Zylstra, Martin (&Connie) Zylstra, Henry(&Helen) Zylstra, and Gladys (&Joel) Spoelstra. Sister: Akke ( &Tjerk) Hoekstra. Step-children Karen Reinhardt, Robyn Sullivan and Christopher Bopp. Numerous grand, and great grand children, and nieces and nephews. In-laws: Jim (&Jude) McCracken, Laurel (&Larry) Broman, Andrew & Grace Bergsma, and Durk & Patti DeJager. Pre-deceased by parents, brother Tom Zijlstra, wife Bobbie Bopp Zylstra, and sister-in-law Patricia DeJager.

Clarence was proud to be a Christian, Veteran, Dairyman, and Teacher. He got his energy from being in nature. Animals knew he loved them, and would come to him.

He was a committed Christian all his life, serving in various capacities, but especially enjoyed teaching young people and adults. Clarence believed in giving back to community, and served on several Boards: Lynden Christian School, Lynden Pioneer Museum, and Dairy related organizations.

While a new immigrant, Clarence was drafted by the US Armed Forces under a NATO agreement during the Korean Conflict. Since he was not a citizen, he could only be assigned to certain duties. He was initially posted to the Chaplains Corp, as a Chaplains assistant, with 7th Army in Germany. With his skill in languages, the Army also used his abilities as a translator for interviews in post WWII investigations, and a driver for officers needing to travel within Germany, because of his German fluency.

Clarence grew up in a farming region of Friesland, and learned how to milk cows and goats from his mother. This skill was valuable when he wanted to immigrate due to the huge unemployment rate in his region, and Europe in general, after WWII. He was approved for a visa to enter the US and Brazil as an agricultural worker. He chose the US and was sponsored by his father’s cousin in California. He began as a milker, and later moved to Whatcom County, starting his own dairy. The dairy he purchased was owned by the Ennen’s family. His farm was a Darigold Farm of the Year, 1986.

In 1974 , Clarence was hired as the first full time faculty member for the newly established Whatcom Community College. He had completed a triple Masters at Western Washington University that year: Political Science, History and Economics. He wrote his thesis on Crown Corporation in Canada; a dairy focused thesis due to being a Dairyman. The current campus of WCC didn’t exist initially, so classes were taught in fire halls, churches, community buildings, and sometimes in his own living room due to lack of space for meetings in the county. He taught at Whatcom for 38 years, until his retirement at age 81. He also served as Faculty Advisor for the Whatcom - Western Christian Study group for over 20 years. Over the years he estimated he had over 10,000 students, and he frequently crossed paths with a former student and was delighted to catch up with them, and hear how well they were doing. He was especially pleased that he was able to teach US Naturalizations/Citizenship classes to over 300 immigrants. He often shared the memories of two particular students. The one, a gentleman from England who was a Duke, had to step forward to renounce his inherited titles and lands before he could become an American citizen. The other was a lady who was very pregnant; she was nervous and couldn’t answer the judges questions. He took pity, and told her since she would soon birth an American she was approved. No one knew she was in labor, and she gave birth several hours later.

A note of appreciation to the staff of Stafholt, and Whatcom Hospice for their loving care.

You are invited to join family and friends on Saturday, December 28, 2019 at 1pm for graveside at the Monumenta Cemetery. The Memorial service will be held at Faith Reformed Church, at 2pm.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Lighthouse Mission: https://www.thelighthousemission.org/how-to-help/financial-donation/
Mailing address : 910 W. Holly Street, Bellingham, WA. 98225

Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Gillies Funeral Home and Cremation Services.


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Previous Events

Graveside

Saturday

28

Dec

1:00 PM 12/28/2019 1:00:00 PM - 1:30 PM 12/28/2019 1:30:00 PM
Monumenta Cemetery

1980 Front Street
Lynden, WA 98264

Monumenta Cemetery
1980 Front Street Lynden 98264 WA
United States

Service

Saturday

28

Dec

2:00 PM 12/28/2019 2:00:00 PM
Faith Reformed Church

612 Liberty Street
Lynden, WA 98264

Faith Reformed Church
612 Liberty Street Lynden 98264 WA
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

Monumenta Cemetery Final Resting Place

1980 Front Street
Lynden, WA 98264

1980 Front Street Lynden 98264 WA
United States
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