Bill (William) J. Van der Merwe: 1932–2019

Jul 02, 2019

Bill J. Van der Merwe died on June 17, 2019, and is survived by daughters Avril, Desiree, and Jo-Anne Van der Merwe, and Joy Van Gend; son-in-law Johannes Van Gend; grandchildren Kirstin Van Gend, and Justin and Melanie Van Gend; and niece Beverley Van der Merwe, as well as a niece and nephews in South Africa.

Born on May 12, 1932, in South Africa, Bill was the second youngest of four. From the age of seven he was raised by a single mother who worked in a bomb factory throughout WWII to support her family.

Their home became a staging area for soldiers and officers en route to deployment to the North African campaign against Rommel. Although Bill was only 13 when the war ended, WWII had a lifelong impact on him.

He felt called to the ministry from a young age. While he left school early in order to help support his family, he continually pursued his own ongoing education. He had a photographic memory, and after receiving his high school diploma, completed his Licentiate in Theology, diploma in Adult Education, and two doctoral degrees.

He was one of only two people in South Africa successful in the Bachelor of Divinity exams in New Testament Greek through London University. He studied Greek all his adult life and had an astounding grasp of the New Testament Greek scriptures.

Bill served in ministry for 60 years, alongside his beloved wife Lorraine, who predeceased him on December 30, 2018. Sixty years of marriage left him bereft without her. His first position as senior pastor in his mid-twenties launched 40 years of pastoral ministry throughout South Africa.

He then immigrated to the United States, serving as the senior adults’ pastor at Westgate Chapel in Edmonds for a further 20 years.

He held wide interests and was an enthusiastic amateur photographer and camera collector who loved the outdoors. He constantly encouraged his daughters, as well as others who crossed his path, in their interests, exhorting them to follow their passion and calling.

Bill loved the Lord, the Word of God, and his family. We will miss him all our lives but rejoice in the certain hope of reunion around the Throne of God.

A memorial service is at 1:00 p.m. July 13 at Westgate Chapel in Edmonds.

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