Draayom, Gerrit, 1851-1937
Posted By: Lydia Lucas - Volunteer (email)
Date: 5/10/2020 at 20:15:46
From the Sioux County Capital, November 25, 1937:
[This In Memorium piece was written following Draayom’s death by columnist Charles L. Dyke, his brother-in-law. See his obituary in the Obituaries section for additional information about him.]
When death came to Gerrit Draayom of Hospers, Iowa, it removed a unique and most interesting and lovable character from the theatre of life. Born in poverty almost eighty seven years ago, and reared in adversity, motherless at the age of ten, he was obliged to earn his own living. He had but little schooling in The Netherlands and two winter terms in the United States where he landed at the age of eighteen. But he supplemented his limited education with self study and reading everything he could borrow, and the garret floor of his little shack on the old homestead was littered with old Harper’s Weeklies, and discarded and coverless books which he in some way had acquired, but without money, for he had little to spend except for the bare necessities of life. And that garret was the delight of the writer. For as Gerrit Draayom had married the writer’s sister, Elizabeth, we had full, unrestrained access to these literary treasures—although the rounds of the ladder were far apart and it was rather dangerous for a youngster to make the ascent, we got there and enjoyed ourselves.
As he was poor, he had to get along with the cheapest and poorest oxen, horses and implements, generally the cast off stuff of others. But he always made it go. At monetary adversity he only smiled and came back with renewed hope and courage, and when death invaded his little home he was resigned to his fate. Sickened almost to death with typhoid fever of which his wife, our sister Elizabeth, died, he was so weakened that he had to give up farming and his children for a while [and] went to the grandparents of his first and second wife. Many a man would have said, “Here I quit,” but not Gerrit Draayom. He obtained the agency of a sewing machine and also sold nursery stock when he was so weak that he could hardly walk. But his fine qualities were generally admired and an offer of a partnership in the lumber business was accepted. He now again began to prosper and married a sister to his second wife, our sister Lucy, who survives him.
He had the complete confidence of all with whom he came in contact. To doubt the word of Gerrit Draayom was like committing sacrilege, for his word was as good as his bond. That he would wrong any one was unthinkable, and if others wronged him he was deeply grieved but had little to say.
He filled almost every office in his township at some time, without ever so much as suggesting it. And finally when he got older, he had to request his constituents not to consider his name for any office. He experienced the smiles and the frowns of fortune and was modest in prosperity and calm in adversity.
While he had little schooling, he wrote voluminously in clear and forceful Holland and English. His favorite theme was history. And his knowledge in this branch of learning was so profound, that he could have filled a chair in any institution of learning with honor and satisfaction to all concerned.
He followed St. Paul’s advice to investigate all things and to hold fast to all that was good, and was well and widely read. He was as well acquainted with the writings of Erasmus, Voltaire, Payne and Ingersoll as with the works of St. Augustine, Aquinus, Luther and Calvin, and his keen reason was always the impartial judge. He cared little for outword creeds and dogmas, and seldom mentioned them in conversation and never in his writings. He realized that religion is not creed or dogma but a life. His life was religion. But he loved his church (Presbyterian), his Bible and his God, and followed in the footsteps of Jesus and the sermon on the mount he could recite from memory. The hymn, “Nearer My God to Thee,” by Sarah Flower Adams, which has been the solace of unnumbered millions, living and dying, was his favorite hymn and which was sung at his funeral.
He exemplified the admonition of the Prophet Micah, “What does the Lord require of thee but to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. And the precept of Jesus, “that to love God above all and thy neighbor as thyself,” is the nucleus of religion. He was in full accord with the facts of science and with all truth wherever found.
As he lived, so he died. When he entered the shadows there were no doubts and fears, but a calm and peaceful trust that all was well. And he repeated with his pastor in unison the words of his beloved hymn: Nearer My God to Thee, Nearer to Thee, until his heart ceased to throb and his spirit took flight.
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