Rev. John DePater


A resident of the Hartford Home in Morrisburg, for the past 18 months, Rev. John DePater passed away at the Winchester District Memorial Hospital on Friday, March 1, 2013, following a brief illness. He was 89.

John was born in Scherpenzeel, the Netherlands, on October 15, 1923, to his parents Jan and Margo DePater (nee Markus).

John DePater was a strong-minded man who lived with passion, but most importantly he lived his life in the knowledge that he would be nothing without the grace of God reaching out to him.

As a child in the Netherlands, his family moved frequently. At age 13, he completed elementary school and then worked as a farm labourer throughout his teen and early adult years. 

During the war years, he was involved in the underground and the resistance army. After the war, he joined the police force and then the army. Before being sent to Indonesia, he met his future wife Alice, got engaged within a few weeks and married her upon his return from Indonesia three years later.

In 1951, John and Alice immigrated to Canada, with a small infant to pursue new opportunities. 

During their first years in Canada, John worked a variety of manual labour jobs to support his growing family. In 1957, the family moved to Hamilton where John completed his high school education by correspondence courses and then received a BA in theology from McMaster University. 

From there, the family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, so John could pursue his studies to become an ordained pastor. He served churches in Holland Marsh, Ontario; Williamsburg, Ontario; Escalon, California; Duncan, British Columba; and York, Ontario. 

He “officially retired” in 1988, but continued to serve churches on an interim basis in various locations throughout Ontario and in the U.S.A. Until very recently, he led Bible studies and a monthly worship service at the Hartford Retirement Centre. 

Throughout his life, John and Alice travelled extensively throughout North America and Europe. He enjoyed nature, camping, reading and spending time with his family. John lived his life with strong convictions desiring to let others know the gospel message. 

John is survived by his children Margo (Jack) VanGilst of Finch, Bea (Renny) VanGilst of Elma, Jan (Elizabeth) of Almonte, Alice Douma (Dean Howland) of Ingleside, James (Barb) of Kemptville and Stephen (Sue) of Cornwall.  

He  will  be fondly remembered by grandchildren Matthew (Anne), Katrina (Steve), Benjamin (Tracy), Luther, Reuben (Emily), Stephanie (Tim), David (Melissa), Tim (Erin), Andrew (Rachel), Dan (Sarah), Dylan, Dexter, Ava, Nathan, Melissa (Dennis), Jason (Jenny), Aaron (Caitlyn), Thomas (Michelle), Miranda (Fraser), Steven, Jennifer, Alexandria, Madison, Erik and by his great-grandchildren Mika, Naomi, Petra, Jonas, Rachel, Ezra, Elijah, Silas, Kate, Noah, Leah, Ethan, Gabriel, Allison, Desi, Haley, Micah, Eli, Arabel, Tristan, Dryden, Logan, Colton, Jackson and Jacob.

He is also survived by nieces and nephews.   

John was predeceased by his beloved wife Alice, his sisters Mija Westervelt, Johanna VanMourik, Margo Wilbrink, Hendrika Pul, Jannigje Wilbrink, Maartje Droogers, his brothers Hendrik and Leonard and his son-in-law John Douma.    

Friends called at the Marsden and McLaughlin Funeral Home, Williamsburg, on Monday, from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m.  Funeral Service was held at Williamsburg Christian Reformed Church on Tuesday, March 5th at 11 a.m. with Rev. John Noordhof officiating.  

Interment followed at New Union Cemetery, Williamsburg.  Pallbearers were grandchildren Luther Van Gilst, Reuben Van Gilst, Tim VanGilst,  Dexter DePater, Jason Douma, Erik DePater.

Donations to the Christian Reformed World Relief Fund or Timothy Christian School would be gratefully acknowledged by the family.  Online condolences may be made at


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