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BLOCK, Robert James, Rev. 1930-2009


Posted By: County Coordinator (email)
Date: 11/3/2009 at 11:55:28

The Rev. Robert Block, age 79, of Orange City, Iowa, passed away on Friday, October 23, 2009, at the Orange City Area Health System Hospital. Memorial services were held on Monday, October 26, at 10:30 a.m., at the First Reformed Church in Orange City. Interment was prior to the service at the West Lawn Cemetery in Orange City.

Robert James was born on July 5, 1930, in Little Rock, Iowa, the son of George and Mary (Veenker) Block. He was raised in Little Rock, where he graduated from high school. He then attended Central College in Pella, Iowa, majoring in history. After graduation, he went to Basrah, Iraq, as the sports and English teacher in the School of High Hope, a Reformed Church in America mission school, where he taught for three years. He continued his studies at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Jersery, and on June 13, 1958, he was ordained to ministry in the R. C. A. by Classis Germania.

On June 18, 1958, he married Lavina F. Snuttjer in Little Rock. They took a summer charge at Shawangunk Reformed Church in Walkill, New York, and went to the University of Michigan that fall, for Vi to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree and Bob to begin the Master of Arts program in Near Eastern Languages and Literature. In the fall of 1959, they went to Kuwait, where they began Arabic language study, and in 1960, they entered Iraq. There he taught English and Christianity in the school in Basrah and in Baghdad. He also worked with the Arab Protestant Church, working with the young people's and men's groups, making many dear friends.

In 1968, the Iraqi government expelled all Americans, prompted by America's support of Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. Bob then accepted pastorates at the Plainview Reformed Church in Long Island, New York, Community Reformed Church in Newton, Iowa, and Lakeview Heights Reformed Church in Clifton, New Jersey. They served Community Reformed for thirteen years, with the congregation growing spiritually and in numbers and also building a new sanctuary. He then began the work of Christian-Muslinm dialogue, working with a board of six pastors in central New Jersey. He served as interim pastor in two churches, taught Biblical studies in the Nile Theological College in Khartoum, Sudan, and served as administrator of the Al Amana Centre in Muscat, Oman, for two years.

The Blocks then retired to Orange City, where he remained active at the First Reformed Church, serving as co-pastor of calling, arranging senior citizens programs, and teaching some courses during the education hours. He also was hospice chaplain and used his musical talents to sing in men's groups and to form a harmonica band, both of which volunteered in the local area. He used his woodworking abilities to make cars for the Hope Haven Wheelchair Ministry, as well as making a tree house to delight children, including his grandchildren. He was a devoted father and grandfather, appreciating times when family could be together. His concern was that Christ was the center of everyone's life, especially his family.

Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Vi; two sons and their wives, Joel and Badria Block, and their children, Maiya and Hannan, of Rio Rico, Arizona; James and Sandi Block, and their children, Zachary and Joshua, of Clear Lake, South Dakota; a daughter and her husband, Susan and Patrick Giannantonio, and their children, Jessica and Jake, of Orange City; a sister, Mary Grace Block, of Milford, Iowa; his mother-in-law, Grace Snuttjer, of Orange City; two brothers-in-law and their wives, Jack and Darlene Peters and David and Kathi Snuttjer; four sisters-in-law, Sharon Reynen, Lois, and her husband, Bruce Lombard, Karen, and her husband, Peter Schakel, and Mary, and her husband, Fred Schaa; and nephews and nieces.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two brothers, George Henry and Peter Ray Block; and four sisters, Ethyl Peters, Ruth Ackerman, Clarice, and her husband Marvin Rosenboom, and Patricia, and her husband, Robert Reynen.

(Oolman Funeral Home obituary)


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