John Raymond Tilstra

john tilstra



John Raymond Tilstra

     John Raymond Tilstra  was born January 24, 1932 near Inwood, IA. He was the son of Walter and Alice(Ter Wee) Tilstra.  He went to a country grade school and then he attended high school in Canton, SD.  He went on to college at Northwestern Jr. College  in Orange City, IA.  He was soon after drafted into military service, where he proudly served in the US Army in Germany for two years.  After military service he returned to school again and attended Iowa State University in Ames, IA and also South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD.  He finally finished up his college career by receiving his Master's degree in Hydrology and Environmental Sciences from the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ.

     He began his career as a research chemist  in Lincoln, NE working for the US Geological Survey.  He transferred to Worland, WY and then moved on to Corvallis, OR where he took a chemist position with Pacific Northwest Water Laboratory.  After 5 years  of working in Oregon, he accepted a position as an environmental scientist with the US Environmental Protection Agency and moved his family to Lakewood, CO.  He worked for the EPA for 30 years and retired in 1987. After a short retirement,  he returned to work as an environmental consultant and eventually took a position with the City and County of Denver.  He worked for another 10 years as an environmental specialist and helped design and implement the water recapture systems at the then newly-built Denver International Airport.

     On February 16, 1962, John married Carolyn Zwaanstra.  They were blessed with 50 years of marriage and have four wonderful children together;  Debra Tilstra of Surprise, AZ, Linda Tilstra-Mann of Glendale, AZ, Janice Tilstra of Denver, CO, and John Alan Tilstra of Grand Lake, CO.  John and Carolyn also have 3 beautiful grandchildren; Rachael, Robert, and Rebekah, and their son-in-law Russell Mann.

     John loved the outdoors and some of his favorite past-times included: hiking and camping, hunting and fishing, visiting and photographing many landmarks, parks, forests in Colorado and beyond.  He also built a mountain home near Grand Lake, Colorado and enjoyed spending time there with family and friends. 

       John will be missed and cherished by his wife, children and grandchildren.  He is also survived by his brothers and sisters and their spouses; Gerrit and Henrietta Tilstra of Canton, SD, Ken and Mary Tilstra of Sheridan, MT, Rodney(deceased) and Nellie Tilstra of Sioux Center, IA, Clarence and Henrietta Pennings of Orange City, IA,  Elmer and Marilyn Tilstra of Denver, CO,  Lloyd and Marcine Kempema of Kersey, CO, Merle and Donna Tilstra of Inwood, IA, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.  He is also survived by Carolyn's sister Betty Bosman.  Betty's husband Charles "Chuck" also passed away  the same morning that John passed away.  John's passing was preceded by Carolyn's sister Grace and her husband Henry "Hank" Jager, as well as Carolyn's brother William "Bill" and wife Dorothy Zwaanstra.  John's passing was also preceded by his twin brothers Marinus and Marvin Tilstra (both lost in childhood) and parents Walter and Alice Tilstra.

He will forever be in our hearts and blessed memories.

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