ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our dear father, brother, uncle, grandfather, teacher, editor and leader, Albertus (Bert) Witvoet, 85 years old. Born on June 11, 1934, passed away peacefully on March 10, 2020, surrounded by his family.

We will forever be grateful for the compassionate, peaceful, wise — and playful — presence he brought into all our lives.

VISITATION: Friday, March 13 from 2 - 4 pm and 6 - 8 pm

MEMORIAL SERVICE: Saturday, March 14 at 2 pm, reception followed.

All events took place at Jubilee Fellowship CRC, 13 Wilholme Drive, St. Catharines, ON

VIDEO RECORDING OF MEMORIAL SERVICE AVAILABLE:
A video livestream of the Memorial Service was provided Saturday March 14th at 2 pm EST. 

To access the recording of that video livestream, follow this link: 
https://www.facebook.com/jubileefellowshipcrc/ 

Open the tab that says “VIDEOS.”  




Posted by Nick Loenen on March 22, 2020
Sincere condolences to Alice and family. As you mourn Bert’s passing, remember God’s promise that He walks with us, that love survives death, that He called Bert into being, directed and protected his whole life for a purpose. May the faith that was the foundation of Bert’s life be also your comfort!

Bert was wonderfully gifted. He was open-minded, yet centered, always searching for what is significant and lasting. His writings, serious but always with a light touch, shaped and influenced me for most of my adult life. The appropriate response is deep gratitude.
Posted by Agnes Kramer-Hamstra on March 14, 2020
And who might they have sent…
for Bert W.

And who might they have sent
that holy trinity of a jazz trio
improvising with intent
to carry you from this home to that:
no fluffy cloud, rose-tinted for you
or childish cherubs with useless little wings.
More like ones with their boots on
this muddy March, and with a wheelbarrow
sturdy and sure, but with some padding
for that worn-fragile bony frame of yours.
And that mysterious journey, as they
hauled you over, with the barrow wheel
soft over the softening earth,
as they – this side and that side - sang you on your way.
Or was it more like this: those ones with boots
came with their buckets and brushed
the grime away, with wide swaths of their soapy wet brooms,
so that you could finally see clear, see through
to come face to beloved face
that face that lit yours in all those
ways you are?

Agnes K-H
Posted by Ike.Jennie Witteveen on March 13, 2020
Dear Alice and family,
Our prayers and deepest condolences go out to you... it must not be easy to think of carrying on without Bert, even for those of us who thought he would always be there with his wise, thoughtful and inspiring words, verbal and written. Our experiences with you and Bert in South Africa as together we “Declared God’s Mighty Acts” using drama and story to teachers there have been and always will be engrained in our memories, not to mention the wonderful library we were privileged to set up from the hundreds of books that your and our friends and church family donated. One day, a person we encountered there asked you, Alice, what’s the secret to your long happy marriage, and without missing a beat, you said, “forgiveness”. That one word spoke volumes about you two. Bert, we will miss your wisdom on the many issues that pulled at your heartstrings – poverty, refugees, the marginalized, the dignity of persons, the cries for justice, and many more. God has now brought you home - as for us, we continue to work and pray on these and many more to which you brought your vision and love. Thank you, Bert!!  (Ike & Jennie Witteveen, Cambridge, ON)
Posted by Sharon Versloot Whelan on March 13, 2020
Our sympathies to your family at this time. Thank you for sharing all the pictures of Bert and Alice and the Witvoet family! May you find peace that passes understanding at this time. Our love goes out to you! He will not be forgotten!
Posted by John Suk on March 13, 2020
Irene and I offer the Witvoet family our most sincere condolences. I invited Bert to work with me on Christian Reformed Church Synod "Banner" production for many years. He was an insightful commentator on all things church, a person who loved the church, and a fine writer. We hoped to come to the visitation, but in view of the social distancing recommendations, have decided to stay home. Hopefully we can watch the service with Bert's sister-in-law, Irene's mother, Alice Oudyk. Grace and peace.
Posted by Bill Boerman-Cornell on March 12, 2020
Bert was my editor at Christian Educators Journal for about ten years. I deeply appreciated his encouragement, wry sense of humor, and love of words. I was also struck again and again at how all that he did seemed to come back to living gratefully for the life God gave him. Although I hadn't seen him for nearly a decade, I was always glad knowing he was in the world. I am grateful for his friendship and will miss him.
Posted by Sara DeMoor on March 12, 2020
I knew Bert primarily through my parents' friendship with him and Alice, and through our fellowship together at Jubilee. What is most memorable to me, and what I most appreciated about Bert, was his steady encouragement throughout my teenage and young adult years--and I know I am not alone in receiving that from him. Whenever I returned to my home church, there was Bert (and Alice), greeting me with a warm smile and full of interest about where God was taking me. He was so encouraging about my doing a degree at ICS, and I can't count how many times he encouraged me to continue to write for Christian Courier, even when I doubted that I had anything worthwhile to say.
What a gift Bert had, for reaching across difference (in my case, age) and intentionally developing relationships, encouraging everyone to use their gifts for the furthering of God's kingdom! My heartfelt condolences to all of Bert's family. You are in our prayers as you grieve his loss, and celebrate his life.
Posted by Fdfbfdf Sddffddfdsb on March 12, 2020
God bless
Posted by Eddy Dykstra on March 12, 2020
Inspite of the fact Bert and I living so far apart from eachother,we had a sort of understanding.As we both teached at( primary and secondary) schools.
I respected him very much because hè lived by the Living Faith .He lived by his dear values and kept them. But then also letting people have their own space and beleifs. My cousin had great wisdom.
On behaIf of my sister Thelma and my brother Lowell I want to give our condoleances to Alice, and the Witvoet family. You are all in our hearts.!
Eddy Dykstra
Posted by Ren Siebenga on March 11, 2020
Christian Education was blessed by him.

It was 1969 on the banks of the Humber River, Woodbridge that he gave me his Bible teaching notes, with the words, “I will not need them again”, so he said. Oh, he gave me more than notes, he also gave me a story about what a school community does when it is driven by fear and personalities. TDCH, where Bert was a staff member, had just fired its entire staff for Bert’s teaching of “Catcher in the Rye”. 

It wasn’t long after that he headed up Scarbourgh Christian High School. It was a stab at a culturally relevant, relationship based, student activity oriented learning - a high school without walls. This model of educational practice caused fellow educators to sit up, take notice, react or refocus as it was a precursor to our modern “Project Based Learning”.

Earlier he wrote about education in the “Christian School Herald” and later in the Christian Educators Journal where issue after issue he challenged us to do Christianly culturally relevant education. All the while “don’t take yourselves too seriously”, he would say with a smile and a slight chuckle. 

April 1990 saw four of us traipsing across South Africa interviewing everyone in sight. All of this in preparation for a week- long unit on prejudice at Durham Christian High in the Special Emphasis Week series. We affectionately named him the “General” on that trip. He called the shots, whether it was our next glass of wine, the next person to interview or the appropriate Christian response to our last interview.

Christian schools, educators, students, communities thank Bert Witvoet.

Ren Siebenga – high school principal of 40 years, 17 of those at TDCH
Posted by Heather Marsman on March 11, 2020
I have very fond memories of Bert - and Alice, of course! When we moved back to Canada from Michigan in the early 1970s, 2 kids and a third on the way, with only an apartment above a Mac's Milk Store available in an around Woodbridge, they offered us sanctuary at their place nearby. It was green space with chickens and good fellowship and many meals. It saved my sanity. Bert was a compassionate and caring man of principle who will be sorely missed. He was a good and faithful servant of the Lord. My sincere condolences to the family at this time.
Posted by Peter Schuurman on March 11, 2020
I'm so grateful for the life of Bert Witvoet, and my sympathy is for Alice and the rest of the family, whom I all admire from my own perch.

Bert was a rare kind of a man. I've written much in the Christian Courier of his life (just yesterday, which you can see on-line), but here is a story that is not in there.

The ICS summer conference was offering a "movement" workshop, which would be practise for a liturgical dance for the Sunday morning worship. Bert, his son Ed, and myself were the only males to sign up for the workshop. Come Sunday morning, there was Bert, at retirement age, joining the young women and Ed and I in praising God with the movement of our bodies in worship.

Bert had a certain joy in him, sometimes mixed with mischief. I loved that character, and I was just told yesterday he liked to play cards and dance in his younger days, despite the frown it might receive from some of the church crowd.

He had a way of pushing the boundaries without raising hackles. I know there are some stories where there was genuine hurt, but the Bert I knew for the last few decades was not seeking trouble; he just liked to keep people wondering. He was nimble--in a number of different ways!
Posted by PRINCILLAR THEMBEKILE PHA... on March 11, 2020
On behalf of Mahonisi Christian Learning Centre and Masia Family in South Africa.
I would like to extend our sincere condolences to Witvoet Family (Our Family in Canada).
We have lost a wise, yet humble and charming man.
He will always be remembered by all at Mahonisi CLC and Masia for his family (Alice and Bert)'s contribution to Christian WorldView Education in South Africa, and the Start of our School Library.
May his Soul Rest in Eternal Peace.

From Shirley Tsakani Masia - PRINCIPAL
(MAHONISI CHRISTIAN LEARNING CENTRE)

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Nick Loenen on March 22, 2020
Sincere condolences to Alice and family. As you mourn Bert’s passing, remember God’s promise that He walks with us, that love survives death, that He called Bert into being, directed and protected his whole life for a purpose. May the faith that was the foundation of Bert’s life be also your comfort!

Bert was wonderfully gifted. He was open-minded, yet centered, always searching for what is significant and lasting. His writings, serious but always with a light touch, shaped and influenced me for most of my adult life. The appropriate response is deep gratitude.
Posted by Agnes Kramer-Hamstra on March 14, 2020
And who might they have sent…
for Bert W.

And who might they have sent
that holy trinity of a jazz trio
improvising with intent
to carry you from this home to that:
no fluffy cloud, rose-tinted for you
or childish cherubs with useless little wings.
More like ones with their boots on
this muddy March, and with a wheelbarrow
sturdy and sure, but with some padding
for that worn-fragile bony frame of yours.
And that mysterious journey, as they
hauled you over, with the barrow wheel
soft over the softening earth,
as they – this side and that side - sang you on your way.
Or was it more like this: those ones with boots
came with their buckets and brushed
the grime away, with wide swaths of their soapy wet brooms,
so that you could finally see clear, see through
to come face to beloved face
that face that lit yours in all those
ways you are?

Agnes K-H
Posted by Ike.Jennie Witteveen on March 13, 2020
Dear Alice and family,
Our prayers and deepest condolences go out to you... it must not be easy to think of carrying on without Bert, even for those of us who thought he would always be there with his wise, thoughtful and inspiring words, verbal and written. Our experiences with you and Bert in South Africa as together we “Declared God’s Mighty Acts” using drama and story to teachers there have been and always will be engrained in our memories, not to mention the wonderful library we were privileged to set up from the hundreds of books that your and our friends and church family donated. One day, a person we encountered there asked you, Alice, what’s the secret to your long happy marriage, and without missing a beat, you said, “forgiveness”. That one word spoke volumes about you two. Bert, we will miss your wisdom on the many issues that pulled at your heartstrings – poverty, refugees, the marginalized, the dignity of persons, the cries for justice, and many more. God has now brought you home - as for us, we continue to work and pray on these and many more to which you brought your vision and love. Thank you, Bert!!  (Ike & Jennie Witteveen, Cambridge, ON)
his Life

Early Years 1934 - 1950

Bert was born in Joure, Friesland, the Netherlands, in 1934 to Grietje Witvoet (nee Dijkstra) and Everhardus Witvoet. Brother to Gerrit (George), Lolle (Lowell), Thelma, Rini, Nell and Fred.

He lived through the German occupation of Holland, but that did not stop this capricious young boy from playing pranks like adding carbonation to a classmate’s inkwell  during lunch (on the urging of some older kids), causing it to foam and spill all over the desk, for which he was reprimanded. He never told on the other kids. On another occasion, he used a small mirror to reflect the rays of the sun into a German officer’s eyes. The officer chased young Bertus, but was unable to catch him. When recounting this story a few months ago, Bert displayed a noticeable glee as he told how he narrowly escaped a slap or stern reprimand in that instance.

Bert’s father Everhardus Witvoet died from an infection in the head / pneumonia in 1946, only two months after his youngest son Fred was born. Because of the war, there was a shortage of penicillin. Bert heard the news while skating in the canal with his younger sibling. As he passed, a woman called across the canal to another woman, “Did you hear? Mijnheer Witvoet is dood....” It was an unfortunate way to find out his father had died. As per the times, Bertus and the rest of the kids had to evacuate the home while the adults dealt with the matter at hand. They were told to keep quiet and their grief was not acknowledged.

Immigration to Canada, 1950

Everhardus had always wanted to immigrate to Canada, while Grietje had remained ambivalent about leaving her homeland. After his death, Grietje finally took her seven children to Canada in 1950, sailing on the S.S. Volendam I. According to Grietje, as soon as the coast of Canada came into view, she knew she had made the right decision and she never looked back.

The family landed at Pier 21 in Halifax where Bert asked a passerby to take this family photo with his newly-purchased camera. Bert is the cocky young fellow on the left, hands on hip, assuredly facing his new future in Canada

Working Years in Canada / Dating (1950 - 56)

Upon arrival in Canada and moving to Oshawa, Ontario, the older children of Grietje and Everhardus went straight to work, and Bertus was no exception. Bert worked on the line at the Goodyear Tire manufacturing company. Actually, it took a couple of attempts to get hired, as initially Bert went to his interview with the traditional Dutch “pofbroek” or knickerbockers worn by young men (and seen in the Pier 21 photo above). A day later, on Grietje Witvoet’s advice, he re-applied, wearing the more manly look of long pants.He got hired on the spot. The money earned from this job, as with the other siblings, went straight into the family pot.

Within a few years, the Witvoet siblings had earned enough income to purchase a home, and within another year or two, they had upscaled to an even larger house, renting out the first home for additional income

Bert’s “Canadian Dream” was working out well so far, and it was only topped by meeting a young Aaltje Roelofje Oldejans, a sweet sixteen-year-old who caught Bert’s eye. They met through the young people’s group in the Bowmanville CRC, where both families attended. Soon after, Bert’s brother George began to date Alice’s sister Henry (Penny), and the eventual linking of the Witvoet and the Oldejans family began to take shape.
Recent stories

Can someone care too much

Shared by Maynard Witvoet on March 11, 2020
Written by Bert
Shared by Maynard Witvoet on March 11, 2020
This Tribute attached below was written by Stan de Jong in the book by Tymen E. Hofman The Canadian Story of the CRC It’s First Century.

continued on the next post...


To the West Coast on a wing and a prayer

Shared by Maynard Witvoet on March 11, 2020
Dad was also a regular columnist of the St. Catharines Standard. Between his first Article of February 3, 2001 and His last article of August 7, 2005, dad shared the Faithwatch religious beat.

“To the West Coast on a wing and a prayer” ... Continued on separate post