On April 8, 2022, Harry Voortman, a long-time supporter of the Redeemer community, passed away. His death came just 16 days after the passing of his beloved wife, Anne.
Voortman was known for his entrepreneurial spirit and business drive. He and his brother Bill co-founded a bakery business in Hamilton in 1951. Over the ensuing decades, Voortman Cookies became exceedingly successful, innovating products and brands in a crowded snack market. But all of that success didn’t change Harry and Anne, who remained humble and faithful to God’s leading, always generously giving back to Kingdom causes including numerous ministries as well as many Christian education institutions.
An advocate of Christian education at all levels, Harry Voortman was involved in the early stages of establishing Redeemer. He sat on the feasibility study committee that founded the Ontario Christian College Association (OCCA) in 1976. The OCCA would later establish Redeemer Reformed Christian College (now Redeemer University) in 1982. Later, Harry and Anne initiated a number of bursaries for high school students and children of missionaries in financial need. They also supported scholarships and bursaries for returning Redeemer students. These awards have made Christian university education possible for hundreds of students over the years.
“Harry and Anne were incredibly generous, and sharing the hope of the gospel was always the focus. They wanted to be, and wanted to help others be, the hands and feet of Jesus to the world. And right from the beginning I think there was a clear vision that Christian education, particularly Christian university education, could help disciple the next generation in that calling,” says Redeemer president Dr. David Zietsma. “The Redeemer community owes a great debt of gratitude to Harry and Anne for their faithful prayer and generous support over many years. They leave a legacy of Redeemer students and graduates who will share the love of Jesus wherever they are called.”
They leave a legacy of Redeemer students and graduates who will share the love of Jesus wherever they are called.
The Voortmans saw this support as a perpetual investment in the lives of students, in the society they would go on to serve and as a way to be obedient to God with the blessings they had received. Teaching from a committed Reformed Christian perspective with a strong biblical foundation was always important. Several of Harry and Anne’s own children, grandchildren and other members of their extended family attended Redeemer as well.
“He was always thankful, and always quick to give God the glory,” said Ed Voortman, their oldest son. “And when it came to giving, whether to Christian schools or Christian missions, he didn’t give you the feeling he was even giving money away, he was just giving it back.”
Known for humility and for attributing successes as blessings from God, Harry and Anne remained in the same home in Burlington for 60 years. Harry was exceptionally gifted and led with diligence, commitment, hard work and care for his employees, who knew him as an approachable and highly respected leader.
Redeemer extends its sincere condolences to family and friends.