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William L. Hiemstra (1915-2004) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: William L. Hiemstra (1915-2004)


Historical Note:

William L. Hiemstra was born in Clifton, New Jersey on March 6, 1915. Son of a salesman, Hiemstra starting working at the age 7. Hiemstra grew up working various jobs throughout his childhood and teenage years. After a brief period of working as a certified public accountant, Hiemstra decided to move to Grand Rapids, Michigan to attend Calvin College.

After graduating from Calvin in 1938, he then went off to Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Throughout his college and seminary career, Hiemstra continued to work odds jobs for money. In 1942, Hiemstra married Thelma Mae Ferrier. Together they had three children. Hiemstra also studied at New York University in Newark. In 1943, he was ordained at the First Presbyterian in Milton, Florida. From 1945-1948, he was the pastor of the First Presbyterian at Water Valley, Mississippi. In 1948, Hiemstra moved back to his home state of New Jersey to serve the congregation of First Holland Reformed Church of Paterson.

Also during this time in New Jersey, Hiemstra served as a spiritual advisor at the Christian Sanatorium in Wyckoff. This part-time spiritual advisor position ignited a spark of interest in mental health and psychology for Hiemstra. This interest led Hiemstra back to Grand Rapids where he would serve as chaplain of Pine Rest Christian Hospital for the next 23 years.

At Pine Rest, Hiemstra started out as a co-pastor, but quickly made his way as head of chaplains in 1969 and in 1977 as senior staff chaplain. He was also the editor of the hospital’s Hot Line and Chaplain’s News Letter. He also served as executive secretary and executive director for the Christian Association for Psychological Studies.

In 1980, Hiemstra moved to Lewes, Delaware and eventually retired there in 2002. He became a member of the Lewes Presbyterian Church and a member of the Lewes Historical Society. Only two years after retiring, Hiemstra passed away in Lewes, Delaware on October 30, 2004.






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