In the May 2017 edition of The Commons, we featured this column written by Western’s oldest living alumni, Rev. Wallace Stoepker (’46). Sadly, we received news that Rev. Stoepker passed away on December 13th. The full obituary which includes a wonderful tribute to his life and ministry can be found below:
“On December 13, 2019, the Reverend Wallace (Wally) Robert Stoepker, a lifelong servant of God and loving husband to Dorothy May Stoepker for over 73 years, entered into fellowship with all the saints and with Christ, our Saviour.
Wally was born on June 21st, 1921 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of Seward and Mary Stoepker, who grew up playing in neighborhood parks, making soap-box derby cars, and peddling newspapers with his dog, Snoopy. Through his years at Central High School he exhibited gifts for ministry at Fourth Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. He graduated from Hope College in Holland, MI in 1943 with a degree in philosophy. During college, he raised money for the Salvation Army playing multiple musical instruments in downtown Grand Rapids. He was the oldest living graduate of Western Theological Seminary, having graduated in 1946.
Following graduation, Wally and Dorothy were married on May 16, 1946. Dorothy was the joy of his life and he courted her every day with devout, unconditional love.
Wally faithfully served six congregations for 40 years: Clymer Hill Reformed Church, Clymer, NY; Ferry Memorial Reformed Church, Montague, MI; Aberdeen Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI; Brooklyn Reformed Church, Brooklyn, OH; Greenwood Reformed Church, Kalamazoo, MI; and Maranatha Reformed Church, Wainfleet, Ontario. His ministry was pastoral, with an emphasis on acceptance and love. His preaching continued at Friendship Village through 2019 where he and Dorothy lived. His last sermon challenged us and himself to be content and helpful.
Wally was a lifelong tennis player, boater, campfire builder, musician, and he loved to go on picnics with the family. He and Dorothy spent summers initially at Silver Lake and then at Kline’s Resort in Vicksburg, MI with a wonderful community of lifelong friends.
In addition to being a devoted husband, Wally was a loving and supportive father of four children, nine grandchildren, & eleven great grandchildren. With love and honor, he is remembered by his sons Dr. David Stoepker & wife Carol, Daniel Stoepker (dec.) & partner Brad Kosko (dec.) & Barb Cripe (dec.), Tim Stoepker & wife Jane; daughter Ruth Stoepker Wilson & husband Charles (dec.); grandchildren Elizabeth & Matt Duncan, Sarah & Dr. Leland Webb, Andrew Stoepker, Jennifer & Mike Jura, Dr. Jeremy Stoepker & Dr. Tanveer Ahmed, Tom & Julia Stoepker, Marta Stoepker & Nate Rott, Dr. Peter & Brooke Stoepker & Sophie Stoepker; & great-grandchildren Gabe Webb, Mallory Webb, Alydia Jura, Carlie Jura, Avery Jura, Skyler Jura, Peter Stoepker, Malini Stoepker, Nicole Stoepker, Liam Stoepker, and Everett Stoepker.
Wally, Dorothy, and family are thankful for the care and support at Friendship Village where they have lived for two years.
A service of the resurrection will be held at Southridge Reformed Church, 6726 Texas Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009, on 12/20 at 11am. Visitation will be at Langeland Family Funeral Home at 6-8pm on 12/19 from 6-8pm. Memorials can be donated to “The Reverend Wallace and Dorothy Stoepker Scholarship Fund”, Western Theological Seminary 101 East 13th Street, Holland, Mi 49423 and to “Open Doors”, PO Box 50102 Kalamazoo, MI 49005-0102.”