John Nordstrom

  • Born: March 11, 1932
  • Died: March 17, 2020
  • Location: Holland, Michigan

Yntema Funeral Home

251 S State St
Zeeland, MI 49464
Tel. (616) 772-2173

Tribute & Message From The Family

John Nordstrom, age 88, went to be with his Lord and Savior on March 17, 2020.

Those who knew John Nordstrom knew he was a big man, both figuratively and literally. He loved big ideas, big pieces of peach pie (with crumbly topping), and the big sound of pipe organs. He had a big heart and loved his family and friends fiercely.

John was born in Chicago. After graduating from the University of Illinois/Champaign with a degree in labor economics, John worked for the Chicago Tribune. In 1955, he married Eileen Mugg, also a Chicagoan. During that time, conversations with a close friend introduced John to thoughts about faith and ministry.

In 1960, John packed up Eileen and his two young daughters and moved to Holland, MI, where he attended Western Theological Seminary. Upon graduation, John once again packed up Eileen and now three daughters to begin a career that he was truly called to. As pastor of the Harlingen Reformed Church in Belle Mead, NJ, John found joy in the life of a pastor. But it was especially in the pulpit that John's big ideas and faith came to life. He loved to write and preach. He enjoyed researching theologians and philosophers and selecting hymns that complemented his sermons. While in New Jersey, John also attended Princeton Theological Seminary where he earned a Master of Theological Studies degree.

Then in 1969, a church in Michigan with a significantly larger congregation offered John a senior pastor position. It was a great opportunity and one that put the family closer to its Chicago relatives. John, Eileen, and now four daughters moved to Zeeland, where he settled in as pastor of the Second Reformed Church. He continued to write and deliver eloquent sermons that explored the intersections of faith, Biblical scholarship, and topical social issues.
When John left the ministry and joined the administration of Hope College as its Director of Development, he was able to dovetail his two careers; carrying out the business of fundraising for a college supported by the Reformed Church was an extension of John's faith. He found meaning and pride in his work, and for 20 years built a development program that included Hope's first-ever phone-a-thons and hilarious stories about his travels across the country.
After retiring from Hope, John remained active in the local nonprofit community as a development consultant. John served as president of the Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland(CFHZ), president and member of the West Ottawa School Board, president and member of the Holland Historical Trust Board, and was a founding member of the OAR board (Ottagon Addiction Recovery). He received the Lindeman award from HZCF, a Distinguished Alumni award from Western Theological Seminary, and a 7 Over 70 award from Resthaven. John and Eileen were active in HASP, Century Club, and the Holland Symphony. They were members of Third Reformed Church in Holland.

John was called to be a pastor, and anyone who heard him preach knows this to be true. And while he left the ministry, he never stopped being a minister. He practiced his faith, mentored many, felt the awesome gift of grace, and continued to preach and marry and bury friends and family. We remember his booming voice, his big laugh, his big smile. We remember his love of his "Leenie," with whom he was married for 65 years; his pride in being father to Linda, Nancy, Martha, and Jane; and his cherished friendships. He loved tennis, winter visits to Seaside, FL, and summers at Les Cheneaux Landing in the UP. John was a member of ROMEOs and greatly enjoyed his Wednesday lunches with the guys.

A light has gone out in our family, but we will never forget how it feels to be loved and to love our dearest husband, father, brother, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, and friend. John was predeceased by his beloved sister Elisabeth Carlson and brothers-in-law Robert Carlson and Skip (Henry) Mugg. He is survived by Eileen; Linda and Steve Boeve, Nancy Nordstrom, Martha Kuyten, and Jane and Phil Eppard; Don and Nicole Strabbing, Rich and Sasha Strabbing, Clay and Kelsey Boersma, Kellen Boersma and Anna Battistello, Katie and Andy Queenan, Naomi Kuyten, Gabe Kuyten, Daishawn Kuyten, Madeline Eppard, and Aidan Eppard; Wally and Dianne Mugg and Carol Mugg; 12 great grandchildren; and an abundance of precious nieces, nephews, and friends.

A memorial will take place at a later time.

Memorial contributions can be made in John's honor to:

Community Foundation of Holland/Zeeland
The Nordstrom Family Fund
85 East 8th Street. Suite 110
Holland MI 49423

Family Hope Foundation
7086 8th Ave.
Jenison MI 49428

Nordstrom Family Scholarship Fund
Hope College Development Services
P.O. Box 9000,
Holland MI 49422-9000.

Condolence & Memory Journal

Doug and I offer our condolences for the loss of your father. We have been friends with Jane & Phil, Nancy and Martha over the years. Jane and I were in college together when I first met your father. We both have always admired his gentle personality, wisdom and dedication to friends and family. He will be missed and you are all in our thoughts and prayers right now.

Posted by Laura Yntema - Hudsonville, MI - Friend   March 28, 2020

Posted by Diana Mavis    March 27, 2020

Posted by Diana Mavis    March 27, 2020

Posted by Diana Mavis    March 27, 2020

Posted by Diana Mavis    March 27, 2020

Dear Eileen and family,

My sincerest condolences. I was saddened to hear the news. John was always smiling, full of kind words, and such a 'gentle, giant man' with a big heart. His influence and faith touched many lives and many hearts over the years. I am privileged to have known him from my long-term employment and association with CFHZ. He will be greatly missed.

Posted by Diana Mavis - Lansing, MI   March 27, 2020

So sad to see and hear this news. I cherish the times I spent being a caregiver to John and being able to meet and get to know his beautiful family. He was a great man and had faith in me and my career. Sent nothing but good vibes and took me in as part of his family during the times I cared for him. You will forever be loved and missed. With Love, and my deepest sympathies to the family.

Posted by Cassandra Limas    March 24, 2020

To all of John's family, our deepest condolences and we are thinking of you. We send our love. Nancy, the obituary was wonderful!

Posted by Rani Falconer - Lompoc, CA   March 23, 2020

John was a big person with a big heart, always smiling and happy to share a few words or memories. John was a very special person.

Posted by David - Holland, MI   March 23, 2020

John was an amazing person who had a major impact on the Ruch family as our pastor, friend, and mentor. He and Eileen always greeted us with big smiles and warm regards. John made the world a better place and he willed be greatly missed!
You will all be in our prayers!

Posted by Doug & Linda Ruch - Saugatuck, MI - Family Friend   March 22, 2020

Eileen and ladies, my heartfelt condolences to all of you, I'm going to miss those visits with John and his gentle and uplifting spirit.

Posted by Max Lokers - Holland, MI - Family Friend   March 22, 2020

John was a pillar of our Holland community. His support for so many worthy organizations took time, energy, and great wisdom. He shall be missed.

Posted by Donna and Gary Bogle    March 22, 2020

As a member of student congress in 1976-77, John asked me to join him on a few development presentations. He became a friend and mentor. A local bank president was looking to hire a hope graduate and John recommended me for the position. In May of 1977 I joined Peoples Bank of Holland as Personnel Officer. This led to a 40 year business career. Today I am honored to serve as Executive Director of Ottagan Addictions Recovery. John was one of the founders of OAR, a non-profit that has served those suffering from addiction for over 48 years in west Michigan. God has used John to save countless lives, and he has been a significant influencer in my life. God bless you John and welcome home.

Posted by David Teater - Spring Lake, MI - Friend   March 22, 2020

Marty, Katie, and the rest of the fam,
So many memories with Opa. My heart is with you all as you go through this tough time, and praying that you feel God's warm embrace around you as you grieve, remember, and celebrate his life.

Lots of love!

Posted by Jessica Spencer - Holland, MI - Family Friend   March 22, 2020

So sorry for your loss Nancy. What a remarkable and full filling life your father had. May his memory be eternal. sending you love and lots of hugs.

Posted by Loli - Friend   March 21, 2020

Nancy, I am so sorry for the loss of your father, and for the sadness in your heart. I hope for your comfort and peace in the days ahead.

Posted by Barb Herman - Spring Lake, MI   March 21, 2020

Eileen and family. Thank you for sharing John with us. He taught me much and served as a true example of a faithful pastor who was unafraid to speak the truth no matter the consequences. We heard about being reprimanded for riding bikes in Zeeland on Sunday as well as another pastor in town who always mowed his lawn in his white shirt and tie. Thank you John for pushing the limits.

Posted by Richard Bennink - Mattawan, MI   March 21, 2020

May God's Strength, Peace, and Love be with you! John was a dynamic man, who blessed all who knew him; and Eileen, you are a wonderful blessing too!

Deb Fergus

Posted by A friend   March 21, 2020

John hired me at Hope College and I could not have asked for a more supportive boss as a working woman and mom. I am so honored to have worked with him.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Nordstrom family.

Posted by Kristen Witkowski - Holland, MI   March 21, 2020

Dear Eileeen, Our deepest sympathy for your loss.An amazing man, husband, father and G P.Touched so many lives, it was a privilege to know and learn from him. Blessings. John and Vicki Litwin

Posted by A friend   March 21, 2020

John was a friend and a great luncheon companion. I will miss him.

Posted by Edward Marsilje - Holland, MI   March 21, 2020

So sorry for your loss. He was a great man. You should all be so proud of him and how much he blessed everyone around him. He will always be praying for you while he waits for you in Heaven. Every day away from him is one day closer to him. Be strong. The best is yet to come. And when you see him again, it will be forever.

Posted by Lisa Howard - Zeeland, MI - Friend   March 20, 2020

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. My deepest sympathy.

Posted by Mary Nykamp - Zeeland, MI - Family Friend   March 20, 2020

John was a real gentleman and always great to be around. He was a tireless advocate for several Holland-area organizations!

Posted by John & Kim Shea - Holland, MI - Acquaintance   March 20, 2020

I am honored to know such a wonderful person, may he rest in ever internal peace. My love and prayers are with his family

Posted by Melissa Tedeschi - West olive, MI   March 20, 2020

Eileen so sorry for your loss. He was a great inspiring person who will be missed.

Posted by Jim Hoekstra - Zeeland, MI   March 20, 2020

We treasure the time we spent with John, especially celebrating his birthdays in Florida.

Posted by Eck and Judi Luken - Miramar Beach, FL - Friend   March 20, 2020

We treasure the memories of the time we spent with John, especially celebrating his birthdays in Florida.

Posted by Eck and Judi Luken - Miramar Beach - Friend   March 20, 2020

So sorry for your loss Eileen. Prayers for strength and comfort. Steve and Norma Hook

Posted by Norma Hook - Zeeland, MI - Acquaintance   March 20, 2020

A great and inspiring man. A community asset in so many ways. We will always remember our friendship.

Posted by Dave and Jane Armstrong - Holland, MI   March 20, 2020

Deepest sympathy to all of you and deepest gratitude for John's full life.

Posted by Kathy and Leon VanRees - Holland, MI - Friend   March 20, 2020

He was quite the guy! Always smiling and a great conversationalist. A large man of faith and testimony. I know my brother Rog loved him dearly so I hope they are having a good laugh at their reunion. Hugs, prayers and sympathy.

Posted by Nancy Yntema Long Long - Woodstock, GA   March 20, 2020

Love to all of you. The stories mentioned surely peg him to a tee. That smile was a true picture of who he was. God's blessing to you all. Love Dick & Linda Schaftenaar

Posted by Linda Schaftenaar - Holland, MI - Friend   March 20, 2020

Thoughts and prayers to the entire Nordstrom family in your time of sorrow and grief.

Posted by Scott Nash - Cedartown, GA - Acquaintance   March 20, 2020

John was ahead of his time. He was a brilliant preacher and a kind friend. I am a better person for having known him.

Posted by Thomas Folkert - Kalamazoo, MI - Friend   March 20, 2020

Dear Eileen, we are so sorry for your loss! John was a very special friend!

Posted by Eric & Carolyn Ellison - Holland, MI - Friend   March 19, 2020

John married us one fine day in 1973. Since then, he would always remind us I did good, didnt I? He did so good in so many ways. Our hearts are with his loved ones.

Posted by KEN and - Friend   March 18, 2020

Family Album