Robert Vernon Talsma

January 25, 1928 ~ January 14, 2022

Robert Talsma, age 93, of Grand Rapids went to be with his Lord and Savior in heaven on Friday, January 14, 2022. Robert was, as he described it, born ‘at an early age’ on January 25, 1928 in the Upper Peninsula. He was a Sunday school driver at 12 and a milk truck driver at 16. Robert proudly served his country in the Army at 18. He later went on to attend Calvin College where he sang in the choir and eventually went on to direct both the band and choir. Robert taught music at Kalamazoo Christian High School and East Christian, later becoming the principal of East Christian. He then went on to work 20 years at Taylor publishing, which he retired from at age 63. One of his proudest achievements was directing the King’s Choraliers. The family would like to extend their appreciation to Care Cardinal, especially Angie, for the tender care they provided. He was preceded in death by his wife of 37 years, Virginia; his wife of 27 years, Bobbie; brothers, Egbert, Raymond, and Jack; and brother-in-law, Donald Bolthouse. He will be lovingly remembered by his sons, Steven Talsma, Craig and his wife Cherry Talsma; and many nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. Memorial services will be held Friday, January 21, 1 pm at Calvin CRC, 700 Ethel Ave. SE, Grand Rapids. Burial at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens. Relatives and friends may meet the family 11am-1pm prior to the service at church. Those who wish may make memorial contributions to either Calvin CRC or the King’s Choraliers.

Leave Your Tribute Message

January 22, 2022 1:06am

I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Bob’s family. It was my privilege to have been one of his care givers at Care Cardinal Belmont. We had many great conversations about his life, his family, his music and his pictures. He was a very lovely man…a true gentleman. Heaven gained an angel and we lost a wonderful man. RIP Bob

- Kim Lemarbre

January 20, 2022 9:38pm

Mr. Talsma was my band director at Kalamazoo Christian High School for all four years of my high school experience.  He was a kind, caring, professional, and motivated the band members to work diligently together.  He frequently reminded the band members that each member was equally important to the overall sound of the band.  Mr. Talsma prepared the band well for the band festivals we participated in and usually the band received a number one rating, and as band members were proud of that rating.  The band was also expected to be the pep band for most home basketball games, and for me that was always fun.  I can picture Mr. Talsma wearing his white conductor’s suit with the shiny brass buttons for our band concerts and band festivals. I learned a lot about music from Mr. Talsma by being a member of the band and that knowledge has served me well throughout my life.  I also remember Mr. Talsma coming to our family home selling World Book Encyclopedias, my parents purchased the beautiful white set of encyclopedias. Mr. Talsma was an inspiration to me and a faithful Christian Educator.  I am thankful to have been one of his students many years ago and to this day I treasure those memories.  Thank you, Mr. Talsma!

- Betsy Westra Retsema

January 18, 2022 6:58pm

What a wonderful man, teacher and educator.  Bob Talsma was my choir teacher n the mid 1960’s at Kalamazoo Christian High. He was also my personal voice teacher.  Because of him, I went on to win the Vocal Music Award at Trinity Christian College in 1965 for singing an Italian song “Caro Mio Bene” that he coached me on.  He was a joy to work with and prompted me to sing, sing, sing.  He is remembered with much fondness.

- Nancy Wolthuis Olthoff

January 17, 2022 2:53pm

Mr. Talsma was my band director at East Christian High School.  I was a member of the first graduating class, and he transferred from Kalamazoo Christian High to take over at East Christian.  Since he lived near me, he asked me to babysit his sons from time to time—Steven and Craig.  I was a cornet player who received a lot of encouragement from him.  I played a solo with band accompaniment my junior year and played buglers’ holiday with two other cornetists during my senior year.  I recognize Mr. Talsma as the teacher in my life who had the greatest impact on my life, and I am thankful to God for this.  After he left educator to work with Taylor and the yearbooks, I had the privilege of interacting with him again, myself being the principal in a Christian school. About three years ago, I got hold of him via phone call to thank him for his impact on my life.  When I mentioned my name, he remember who I was, and that was remarkable.

- David Weemhoff

January 17, 2022 1:59pm

As I read my GR Press this morning, I was saddened to learn of Bob’s passing.  What a kind and loving person. I met Bob in 1974 when he was still with Herff Jones and we soon became friends. I was a teacher/adviser and one of his clients. We worked well together and later I joined him as one of his salespersons with Taylor Publishing.  I have always felt that my life has been enriched because Bob was a figure that was always there. He was always eager to learn, kind, and loved life. He would say, “he was lucky to have had two wonderful wives”.  He was right, and I am sure they felt the same way.  I remember that he directed a choral group and believe I may still have a copy of an album they released back in the late 70’s, early 80’s. Bob was a true Christian and his belief and love was shown through all of his actions. Lydia and I send our sincere condolences to Steve, Craig, Cherry and family.  You were very fortunate to have your father around for so many years, and am certain he loved you all dearly. What a marvelous role model he was. I have many memories of riding along in a car or rental truck, laughing, discussing family, life, and our interests.  Bob had a great sense of humor and loved a good laugh.  Right now especially while the world is so at sorts, it is a pity to lose this man who gave so freely, kindly and gently to making the world a better place.  I remember once, Bob coming to visit a work session Craig and I were having to complete a yearbook. Bob visited with me, and the next thing I knew, he was sitting on the floor with a couple of my yearbook staff members unpacking a couple chairs from boxes, helping them to assemble them. Any time I spent with Bob was a gift, and I always felt his warmth which left me with a smile and twinkle as he walked away, He was bound for his next adventure. Thanks for blessing and enriching our lives. Safe travels my friend!

- Phil and Lydia Huber

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