August 30, 2013
10:30 A.M., Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Third Reformed Church
Beginning at Noon, Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Family present 5:00-7:00 P.M.
Garden Chapel Funeral Home
World Missionary Press, Inc.
November 24, 1931 - August 30, 2013
Grandma Willems was a counselor, healer, evangelist, mom, homemaker, baker, gardener, avid smuggler, and sewer. In her 81 years, she touched the lives of many and her memory will impact the generations to come, especially those who received one of her smuggled Bibles.
Phyllis Mae was born to Henry and Amy (Clausing) Bonnema on November 24, 1931, in Roseland (Chicago), Illinois at their home. She was the second child of four born into the family. Phyllis went to her heavenly home on Friday, August 30, 2013, from her earthly home in Pella, Iowa. She was preceded in death by her parents and her older brother, Roy Bonnema in 2001. Phyllis is survived by: her husband; their four sons and spouses; thirteen grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; her brother, Calvin Bonnema; sister, Henrietta Reynolds; sister-in-law, Marsha Bonnema; and Donna Willems.
Phyllis was a driven woman. She attended Roseland Christian Grade School and went on to graduate from Illiana Christian High School in Lansing, Illinois. She studied at Calvin College her freshman year, before attending Thornton Junior College for a year. It was at this point her life took a bit of a turn. Instead of continuing her education, Phyllis decided to take an opportunity to teach. She'd heard that Roseland Christian School needed teachers, she applied and was given a contract to teach second grade. That wasn't the only opportunity there for her. Despite having her hands full with 42 students, she found time for a bit of romance. She met her future husband, Abe Willems, who was teaching seventh grade at the Roseland Christian School. Not long after, Phyllis was united in marriage with Abraham Willems on December 29, 1953, at the First Christian Reformed Church in South Holland, Illinois. For the next couple of years, life for the newly married couple went well. By 1965 the family, which now included three sons: David, Daniel and Paul, moved to Pella when Abe became the guidance counselor at Pella Christian High School. Finding opportunity at every turn, Phyllis was able to complete her college degree at Central in 1968. After graduating from Central, Phyllis taught art classes at Pella Christian Grade School and homemaking at Pella Community Middle School.
Now, Phyllis was never one to sit idly by. So, she filled her time with a couple of rewarding activities. Phyllis enjoyed working in the church, teaching Sunday school, Daily Vacation Bible School, going on mission trips and Bible camps, holding prayer meetings, and participated in Prison Fellowship. She also enjoyed domestic activities, such as cooking, baking, sewing, and gardening. Phyllis taught homemaking for five years at the Pella Christian High School until the fourth son, Timothy, was born.
Phyllis and Abe travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, and the United States. They were able to see God work through their travels and their missionary work at home. On the home front, Phyllis and Abe watched God work when they were councilors for Christian Farmers Fellowship, coinciding with the Farm Progress Show and councilors for a Billy Graham Crusade. During their travels overseas, Phyllis continued her dedication to education by providing illegal texts to people, otherwise known as Bibles. Phyllis and Abe visited the location where Jim Eliot and the other missionaries who were killed in Ecuador.
Life has a funny way of making turns. When Phyllis was a little girl, she dreamed of being a nurse. But, with the teaching and her family, she never had an opportunity to fulfill her dream. It wasn't until their fourth son, Tim, went to grade school, that Phyllis had the chance to go to nursing school. In 1985, she graduated from Marshalltown School of Nursing. She worked as an independent home healthcare nurse until illness struck in 2009.
Grandma always wanted to become more like Christ and lead others to the knowledge of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. She constantly shared her faith with all of those around her. As the family and friends left behind, we know without a doubt she is in Heaven, singing with the angels.
Husband: Abe Willems of Pella, Iowa
David and Marjorie Willems of Leo, Indiana
Tyler and Marissa Krehbiel
Daniel and Denise Willems of Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Mary Beth Willems
Paul and Jeanean Willems of Story City, Iowa
Aaron and Kara Willems
Titus and Eden
Nathan and Angie Willems
Alethea and Caleb
Eric and Michelle Norris
Timothy and Erica Willems of Middletown, Virginia