Ralph Blocksma departed this life
died October 11 in St. Lukes Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.
He was 87.
was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Dewey Blocksma and Abbie
DeBoer Blocksma. He attended South High School, Calvin College,
and University of Michigan School of Medicine, completing surgery
and plastic surgery residencies at St. Lukes Hospital in Chicago.
In 1940, Dr. Blocksma married Ruth Naomi Enss. A captain in the
U.S. Army, he served from 1942-1945 as a plastic surgeon in evacuation
hospitals in England, France and Germany.
In 1949, Dr.
Blocksma began a career in international medicine that endured throughout
his life, spending the next five years in Lahore, Pakistan, under
the United Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions to establish the
United Christian Hospital where he became Medical Director and Chief
Dr. Blocksma returned to Grand Rapids in 1954 to begin a private
practice in plastic and reconstructive surgery which he maintained
until retiring in 1979. He practiced at Butterworth Hospital, where
he served as Chief of Plastic Surgery, Director of the Oral Cleft
Clinic, Chief of Staff, and member of the Board of Trustees, and
founded and directed the residency program in Plastic and Reconstructive
Surgery. In 1976 he was licensed to practice at the Peebles Hospital
in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
period and continuing to the end of his life, Dr. Blocksma was committed
to the health and welfare of people in the Third World. He did short-term
missionary service in the Far East, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Ecuador, Panama, Borneo, Nigeria, Malawi,
Nicaragua and Liberia; was a founding member, Chairman of the Board
and life-long supporter of the Medical Assistance Program (MAP);
and recently served as Chairman of the Board of Affordable Medicines
for Africa (AMFA) in Nairobi.
was an active member of over twenty local, state, national and international
medical and plastic surgery associations and societies, serving
on many boards of trustees or directors.
from active practice, Dr. Blocksma became Chairman and Organizer
for the Annual British Virgin Islands Medical Conferences (1977-1993),
under the auspices of Butterworth Hospital, and the Annual British
Virgin Island Workshop in Plastic Surgery (1987-1993).
maintained a life-long membership in LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed
Church, and served as an Honorary Member of the Advisory Committee
of YMCA World Ambassadors.
Dr. Ralph Blocksma
is survived by his wife, Ruth Blocksma; daughter Mary Blocksma,
writer and artist; son Dewey D. Blocksma, artist and physician;
daughter Julia A. Blocksma, musician; son Carter G. Blocksma, furniture
and interior home designer; grandsons Dylan K. Kuhn, Colin McCulloch
Blocksma and Dewey Blocksma Dunnington; granddaughters Anneke Blocksma
Dunnington and Lorna McCulloch Blocksma; and sister, Jean Boelkins
Dr. Ralph Blocksma
will be remembered by thousands as the man who made life not only
bearable, but beautiful. His compassion for the disfigured and tenderness
with children lead him to new repairs for cleft lips and palates,
decubitus ulcers and burns.
A memorial service
for Dr. Ralph Blocksma was held at Palms Presbyterian Church in
Jacksonville Beach on Sunday, October 14. In lieu of flowers, contributions
may be sent to AFTA (Affordable Medicines for Africa), c/o Barbara
Sperry, P.O. Box 20667, St. Simons Island, GA 31522, or to The Henry
Beets Mission Society, c/o LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church,
107 LaGrave Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.
and Staff of The Island Sun newspaper join the BVI Community in
expressing deeply felt condolences to the bereaved family of the
late Dr. Blocksma.
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OF THE ISLAND SUN Newspaper. All rights reserved.