Nicholas Willems 1924 - 2009 Lawrence
A memorial service for Nicholas Willems, 85, Lawrence, will be 6:30 p.m. Saturday, July 25, at the Mustard Seed Church. Private family graveside services will be at Oak Hill Cemetery.
Mr. Willems died Wednesday, July 15, 2009, at his home in Lawrence.
He was born Jan. 6, 1924, in Aardenburg, Holland, Netherlands, the son of Hendrik and Elisabet Wilhelmina Lefevre Willems.
He and his wife, Ineke, immigrated to South Africa in March 1948 and lived in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Lyttleton, and Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, until they immigrated to the United States and settled in Lawrence in June 1960.
He received a doctorate in civil engineering from Kansas University in 1963.
He and his wife co-founded the Mustard Seed Fellowship in Lawrence in 1974. He was the senior pastor at the Mustard Seed Church until 1997 and continued to serve on the pastoral staff until June 2009. He was also a professor of civil engineering at Kansas University for 30 years. During his years as a professor, he served as chairman of the civil engineering department for one term. He retired in 1990.
He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers; South African Institute of Civil Engineers; and a member of the Mustard Seed Church. Throughout his career, he authored several engineering books and many articles, and in 2008 he wrote and had published two Christian books. In 1997, he and his wife brought the Alpha Course to Lawrence, which has run continuously until the present.
Mr. Willems married Ineke C. Wessels on Jan. 15, 1948, in Holland. She died Oct. 19, 2002.
He was also preceded in death by a grandson, Nick Willems, four brothers, and two sisters.
Survivors include three sons, Hank and wife Mary and Pieter and wife Alice, all of Lawrence, and Kevin and wife Lorri, Olathe; two daughters, Ann Kihm and husband Walt and Elise Dreyfus and husband Lawrence, all of Lawrence; one sister, Mia Duiven, the Netherlands; 17 grandchildren, Brian and David Kihm, Laura Suhr, Jason, Amanda, Hannah, J.J., Isaac, Brandon and Andrea Willems, Elisa Brooks, Adrienne Barclay, David and Rebecca Dreyfus, Colt, Scott, and Krystle Haines; and nine great-grandchildren.
The family suggests memorials to Mustard Seed Church Alpha Course, sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.
Online condolences may be sent to warrenmcelwain.com, subject: Willems.