Stroo Funeral Home, Inc. 
1095 68th St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508
Phone:  (616) 455-9280 
Fax: (616) 455-2035
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Michael A. Vos - Owner / Manager
 Robert K. Stroo - Owner / President 



Service Information

 Rev. Lester Wayne Van Essen
Visitation: Saturday, January 21, 2023, from 10 - 11:45 am at Covenant CRC, followed by the service at 12 noon
Service: 12 Noon, Saturday, January 21, at Covenant CRC, 7171 Willard Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49548

Rev. Lester W. Van Essen, age 87, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Sunday, January 15, 2023. He was born on July 25, 1935 and raised near Leota, Minnesota, one of eleven children born to William and Hattie Van Essen. A graduate of Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, Rev. Van Essen served as a missionary for Christian Reformed World Missions in Nigeria for 20 years. He went on to serve as the pastor of Immanuel CRC in Burbank, Illinois for 11 years, and First Lansing CRC in Lansing, Illinois for nearly 9 years before retiring in 2002. In his retirement years, he continued his service as an interim pastor in churches throughout the country. Rev. Van Essen was a devoted, passionate servant of the Lord, who faithfully led the people entrusted to his care. His Christ-like example will be remembered by his wife of 61 years, Elaine; their children, David (Elena) Van Essen, Evonne (Rodney) Ludema, John (Holly) Van Essen, Joel (Christine) Van Essen, and Daryl (Anna) Van Essen; their 17 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren; his surviving siblings, Cynthia DeBoer, Ivan (Barb) Van Essen, and Glen (Jeri) Van Essen, as well as a brother-in-law, John Beukelman, and three sisters-in-law, Marian (Dave) Young, LaVonne Last, and Mary Last; along with numerous nieces and nephews. Visitation will be held on Saturday, January 21, 2023, from 10:00 - 11:45 AM at Covenant Christian Reformed Church, 7171 Willard Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the funeral service celebrating Rev. Van Essen's faith and life in Christ will take place at 12:00 noon Saturday. Rev. Mark Neymeiyer will be officiating. The service will be livestreamed on the church website: . 

1095 68TH ST SE
# Rosemary DeRuiter 2023-01-21 19:01
What a beautiful service. It was so good to hear the children talk about their Dad. He was indeed a great pastor and friend. May Gid continue to be with all of you during the difficult days ahead. Praise God for his love for Us! I remember sing in A Cappella choir with Les when we were at Calvin. He loved to sing then also.
# Bob & Nancy Bierenga 2023-01-21 13:35
Our prayers for Elaine and the family at this difficult time. Les was a kind and gentle man. We very much enjoyed the times we visited together.
# Rosemary DeRuiter 2023-01-21 03:30
Dear Elaine and family, I want to extend my sympathy to you. Les was a great pastor and friend. My memories go way back when we were at Calvin and sang in A Cappella choir together. Oh, how he loved to sing! May God give you his peace!
# Inger and Mats Pers 2023-01-20 09:07
Thanks Lester for all the great memories.
We had the privilege of meeting you, Elaine and the family in both the USA and Sweden, via Anna and Daryl.
It was always very nice and we always longed to see each other again.
You were a wonderful person who has left us greatly missed
Rest in peace
Inger and Mats Pers
Mora Sweden
# Virginia Primus 2023-01-20 01:13
Your friends at the DC CRC want to send you our condolences in the loss of Les. We have loved his visits to our church and know how much he was loved by his family. Praying for peace and comfort to you at this difficult time.
# John & Rosanne Van 2023-01-19 17:18
Elaine our prayers are with you and your whole family.
You and Pastor Les modeled what a great marriage looks like. The Lord used your partnership to influence so many including us for His glory! Love John and Rosanne
# Peter Huiner 2023-01-18 14:56
My sympathy to you and your family, Elaine. It has been many years since Les was a part of my life, but I have treasured memories.
# Evy Smith 2023-01-18 13:34
Les and Elaine were not just Pastor and wife ( a great team) but you knew that they cared about you. They served at my home church for a long time. I was on the mission field for many of those years. Whenever I came home they were understanding and always took time for me. They were the best encouragement and wonderful role models.
Praying for comfort for you all.
In Him, Evy
# Ethel Branderhorst 2023-01-17 15:50
Our condolences, Elaine and family. Know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. I appreciated Les and his humour on more than one occasion, even though we did not cross paths very often. God has blessed me through Les and Elaine for which I give thanks. God's strength and peace for the days ahead. Ethel Branderhorst (Suk)
# Tim jansma 2023-01-17 07:19
Sorry to hear about your husband Elain he was a blessing to so many people. As a member of 1st CRC in Lansing IL. Remembering his kind heart. The one thing he always said that will stick with me is: ITS BET ITS EASIER TO ASK FOR FORGIVENESS THAN PERMISSION!
# Brian Kiel 2023-01-17 00:33
Les was y the first Pastor I served with when I was a rookie 2nd Staff at Immanuel CRC. He was gracious and allowed me to learn without the pressure of some unattainable goals. Les wasn't just a Pastor, he was a friend. It was Chuck Swindoll who said, "I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let's face it, friends make life a lot more fun."
# Lee Baas and Carolyn 2023-01-16 21:53
So sorry that we will be out of town until next week. Les was a great co-worker in ministry.
# Warren and Corrie De 2023-01-16 20:16
Our sincere condolences to the family. We remember Less well, some of our children were baptized by him in Nigeria in the 70 ts..May you experience God's love and comfort in the days ahead.
# John & Fran Boer 2023-01-16 19:51
We wish Elaine and decendants our most sincere consolation in the Lord. Though we may not always have seen eye to eye in Nigeria, we did and do respect him till this day. May our good Lord deeply console you for your loss. Just remember the rich years you had together. How blessed you are and are.
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