Obituary for Bernie Van Roekel
Bernie John Van Roekel, 1946-2017
Bernie John Van Roekel was born Jan. 2, 1946, near Sully, IA, to Gysbert “Bert” and Sophia Van Roekel. He spent his early childhood years on a farm and then moved with his family to Pella, IA.
During his high school years in Pella, Bernie met his future bride, Mary Steenhoek. After high school Bernie moved to Ames, IA, to pursue an electrical engineering degree at Iowa State University. In 1968, the summer before his final year, he and Mary were married.
Upon their college graduation in 1969, the couple moved to Kansas City, MO, where Bernie started his engineering career at Kansas City Power & Light. Two years later, their family grew to three with Angela’s arrival, and then four when Carol was born just a few years later.
With his career taking off and a growing family at home, Bernie managed to also continue his education at night, earning his MSEE degree in 1976 from the Univ. of Missouri at Kansas City.
In 1978, the family moved to Arlington, TX, as Bernie took a position at TESCO/TU Electric where he worked for several years. After TU Electric, Bernie continued his engineering career working in various North Texas engineering firms as well as DFW International Airport until his retirement in 2012.
Bernie’s life was marked by his deep commitment and love for Jesus Christ. This led Bernie to serve in the Church first as a deacon and also for more than two decades as an elder. Bernie’s love for Jesus also fueled his passion for missions. He served the poor in Mexico on countless trips to minister through practical ministry, often using his electrical engineering background to help with wiring for churches, including one church inside a Mexican prison. Always ready to follow the Lord’s leading, Bernie made additional short-term trips to Honduras and to Turkey and China (with Mary).
At home, Bernie’s love for Jesus influenced how he loved his wife and daughters, son-in-law and grandchildren. He was faithful and compassionate, speaking truth and modeling grace with his family. “It was easy for us to envision God as our loving Heavenly Father because of the example Dad set as our loving earthly father.”
During his life, Bernie experienced the Lord’s healing touch after a stroke in 1994 and a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2003. In both cases, Bernie could look back and see clearly how the hand of his God had protected and sustained him even in the hardest days of recovery. These experiences gave Bernie great compassion for those who were suffering with health challenges, and he regularly prayed with them in great faith for their healing and restoration. It was important to Bernie to share his testimony of his own healing as a way to glorify his loving Father and encourage the faith of those enduring similar health challenges.
In part because of his health challenges – especially the stroke in 1994 – Bernie developed a deep longing to see Jesus face-to-face and experience the restoration of all things as promised in Scripture. And this desire led him to serve the Lord all the more in this life, helping others to look forward to the fulfillment of God’s great promises in His Word.
On Dec. 26 Bernie’s deepest longing was fulfilled as he went home to Jesus whom he loved so much and served so well.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Bernie is survived by his loving wife of 49 years, Mary; two daughters, Angela Pomykal and Carol McCoy; a son-in-law, Bill McCoy; five grandchildren, Hannah Pomykal, Rebekah Pomykal, Caleb McCoy, Luke McCoy and Grant McCoy; a sister, Sylvia Hoksbergen; and two brothers-in-law, Ed Hoksbergen and Edwin Horman. Bernie was preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Janice Horman.
A Celebration of Life service will be held Tuesday, January 2nd, at 2:00 p.m. at Grace Community Church, 801 W. Bardin Road, Arlington, TX 76017.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be sent to Partners Across Cultures and noted for either Mexico or overseas missions. Checks can be mailed to Partners Across Cultures, 803 W. Bardin Rd, Arlington, TX 76017, or you can give online at www.partnersacrosscultures.com/donate.
Wade Family Funeral Home