June 14, 2015
10:00 A.M., Saturday, June 20, 2015
Sully Christian Reformed Church
4:00 – 7:00 P.M., Friday, June 19, 2015
Sully Christian Reformed Church
Sully Christian Grade School
Pella Christian High School
February 22, 1926 - June 14, 2015
Bernard Arkema, 89, was born on February 22, 1926, to Oney and Katie Arkema. Bernard was the 4th of 12 children. He lived in the Sully, Iowa, area his entire life. Growing up in a close-knit Dutch community, Bernard attended Sully Christian School and Sully Christian Reformed Church. It was at the church youth group meetings, that he met the "love of his life", Cornelia Van Soelen. They married in the Sully Christian Reformed Church, and lived in the Sully area all their lives. Bernard drove a truck for Walt Vander Leest for a couple years, then began farming on Walt's farm south of Sully, where he and Cornelia raised their three sons.
Bernard was known and respected as an excellent farmer, and early in those farming years, he built his "Shop," a free-standing building housing all his tools and in which he did wood-working, welding, and increasingly developed his creative skills. At the age of 40, when all three sons had left home for college, he got a job as Foreman at the Sully Co-op Lumber Yard. He and Cornelia left farming, moved to Sully in 1968, and he built "The Wood Shop" in the basement of their house.
In that Shop, Bernard perfected his wood working skills -- making grandfather clocks, fine furniture and wooden toys. He created a successful business as a Master Craftsman, and was known for his excellent woodcraft. Over twenty years ago, The Des Moines Register did a feature article with photos of Bernard and Cornelia and his Shop. People throughout Iowa knew that Bernard was "the man" who could make anything beautiful out of wood -- mostly walnut, also oak and cherry.
After twenty-two years, he officially retired from the lumber yard, but then continued to work for the Co-op well into his 70's, hauling fertilizer to farms for miles around the Sully area -- all the while spending many hours in his shop at home.
Bernard used his God-given blessings in all areas of his life. His passion for reading scripture, studying the Bible, and teaching Catechism, further led him into the role as an Elder in the church. Bernard's passion for talking about spirituality and studying the Bible was passed down to his three sons. Bernard also served on the Bus Committee of the Sully Christian School, and on the Board of Pella Christian High School. He supported both schools all his life.
Bernard is survived by his sons Carroll (Mairead), Dean (Gayle), and Ken (Patricia), five grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren; and siblings Betty (Earl) Dykema, June Rozendaal, Alan, Hermina Rolffs, Grace (Harris) Van Kooten, Lewis (Jean), and Edwin (Leona). He was preceded in death by his wife Cornelia (Van Soelen), and siblings John (Iva), Dormand (Beulah), Marjorie (Freeman) Van Gorp, and Nelson (Dorothy).
Bernard wanted to be remembered as a servant saved by the grace of God. We know that when he met our Lord that he heard, "Well done, good and faithful servant."