Ray Leenstra (1949 - 2013)

Obituary
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  • "Dear Gwen and Family, May God surround you with His love..."
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    - Chuck and Debbie Frederick
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Ray Leenstra of Redlands, Calif., went to glory at the age of 63, on April 24, 2013, after a 10-month battle with cancer. Ray was born on May 21, 1949 in Heeg, Netherlands, to Fred and Edith Leenstra. He was the youngest of 10 children. After graduating from Minnesota Christian High School, he received a B.A. degree from Dordt College, and later a M.A. degree from Montana State University. He was a lifetime member of the Christian Reformed Church. In 1970, he married the love of his life, Gwen Kimm.

Ray began his career in Christian education in 1973. He was a 5th grade teacher and coach for two years at Richmond Christian School, Richmond, Va. The next 13 years he spent at Manhattan Christian School, Manhattan, Mont., as a 5th grade teacher, girl's basketball coach, and later, as a principal. In 1988, he and his family moved to Redlands, Calif., where he has been the administrator of Redlands Christian School for 25 years.

Wherever Ray worked, he was loved and respected by the parents, students and staff of each organization. He never waivered from sharing his faith and his belief in the value of Christian education for raising children and youth to be leaders of the future.

Along with running the daily operations of the Christian school, you could often find him in work clothes with a shovel or tool in hand, working to make his school a place of excellence in all areas. If the work needed to be done, Ray worked until it was completed.

His office was always available to parents to discuss whatever struggles or joys they were experiencing. It was also a place of nurturing individual students through crucial times in their lives.

Ray was preceded in death by his parents, older brother, Fred; an infant brother, Thomas; and his father-in-law, Wilbur Kimm. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather to his wife, Gwen (Kimm) of 42 years; his daughter, Brigitte (Steve) Crowell of San Clemente; granddaughters, Gracie and Sofia Crowell and his son, Quentin (Jen) Leenstra of Yucaipa, Calif. His surviving family include, Simon (Hennie) Leenstra of Lacombe, AB; Henny (Ben) Senneker of Lethbridge, AB; Pearl (Jake) Tjepkema of Lacombe, AB; Ida Bowman of Surrey, BC; Henry (Tina) Leenstra of Lethbridge, AB; Tina (Gerald) Oevering of Vauxhall, AB; Andy (Deanna) Leenstra of Willmar, Minn.; and Bill (Karen) Leenstra of Willmar, Minn.; also, his in-laws, Irene Kimm (mother-in-law) of Manhattan, Mont.; Bill (Marian) Kimm of Manhattan, Mont.; Lee Kimm of Phoenix, Ariz.; Miriam (Delray) Van Eps, teaching in Kuwait; Scott (Denise) Kimm of Manhattan, Mont., and numerous nephews and nieces.

A memorial service will be held on May 10, 2013 at The Packinghouse, Redlands, Calif., at 1 p.m. His burial place will be Churchill, Mont., with a private graveside service at 10 a.m. on May 18, 2013, followed by a memorial service at Bethel Christian Reformed Church at 11 a.m. Memorial gifts in honor of Ray can be made to The Ray Leenstra Memorial Scholarship Fund at Redlands Christian School, 1145 N. Church St., Redlands, CA 92374, or for those living in the Montana area, to the Ray Leenstra Memorial Scholarship Fund at Manhattan Christian School Foundation, 8000 Churchill Rd., Manhattan, MT 59741.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from May 5 to May 17, 2013
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