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Zylstra, Henry (1909-1956) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Zylstra, Henry (1909-1956)

Historical Note:

Henry Zylstra was born in Platte, South Dakota on April 4, 1909.  Zylstra first attended Grundy College, but later enrolled at Calvin College where he received his A.B. in 1931.  Zylstra remained at Calvin for another year, assisting in the subjects of English, German, and speech. By 1932 he received a scholarship to attend State University of Iowa to earn his Master's degree in German.  For the next three years, Zylstra taught English for Western Christian and Grand Rapids Christian high schools. During this time, he also served as a part-time English assistant at Calvin College.

Zylstra went on to further his own education at Harvard University where he earned his Ph.D. in 1940.  He remained at Harvard for the next year as a research bibliographer.  In 1941 Zylstra accepted the call from Calvin College as their Instructor of English and German. During the time Zylstra was promoted to Associate Professor, World War II broke out. He served as 1st Lieutenant in the Pacific Theatre until 1946.  In 1950 Zylstra became professor and chairman of the Department of English at Calvin College. During his career, Zylstra was also chairman of the Division of Languages, Literature, and Arts; Chairman of Library Committee; and member of the educational policy committee. He also served as president of Student Council and on the Chimes staff.

Zylstra received a Fullbright grant to lecture at the Free University in Amsterdam for a year. In 1956, while waiting for a bus in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, Zylstra had a heart attack and passed away at the age of 47. He was survived by his wife, Mildred (Reitsema) and two daughters.

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