William John Sikkema peacefully went home to be with his Savior on Saturday morning, January 29 at his home in Fort Myers, Florida.
”Friendly Bill” as he liked to be called, was blessed with a long life (96 years). He was born (1925) in Glen Rock, New Jersey, to William and Jennie Sikkema. He was preceded in death by his parents and two older brothers, John Sikkema and Chris Sikkema.
Bill is survived by his lovely wife of 68 years, Dorothy Nightingale, his two daughters, Joy Sikkema and Faith Burnham (Jonathan Burnham), and his granddaughter, Taylor Burnham Levit (Alex Levit), and grandson, David Burnham.
Those who knew “Friendly Bill” remember that the most important thing in his life was his love for Jesus Christ. After growing up in a Christian family, he entered military service in 1943 while still in high school. While in combat training during WWII, he volunteered and entered the 82nd Airborne division. During the winter of 1944-5, he participated in three direct combat campaigns in Belgium and Germany. He often told of lying in foxholes in the unforgettable, frozen ground while snow and enemy shelling filled the air above. He also described the experiences of liberating prisoners at concentration camps in Germany. It was during the war when he fully committed his life to Jesus Christ while begging for survival.
Upon the completion of the war, the 82nd Airborne was honored to participate in the WWII Victory Parade through the streets of NYC. Bill then went back to high school, met his wonderful wife, started a family and a water well drilling business which he ran for over 50 years. He also was very active in his church, Hawthorne Gospel Church, and in various other ministries, such as Operation Mobilization of which he was a Board member. His family found out later in his life that he had given to many people in need and believed he should keep it quiet as only the praise of the Lord mattered. For much of his life, Bill seemed to have endless energy, working with Dorothy on do-it-yourself projects, dashing off to NYC, and always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone who needed it. His sense of humor and love of laughter was another one of his dominant traits! Everyone loved his smile because his whole face lit up! He was a beloved husband, dad and grandfather, and will be greatly missed by his family!
It is experiences like these that formed Bill’s character and the path of following God with his life. Bill never forgot, and was forever thankful, that God protected and provided for him. Many know that the turmoil of war never leaves a person, and this was true for Bill. Thankfully, this helped lead him to a life with his Savior Who he now sees face to face!
Bill’s earthy shell will be honorably buried at the Sarasota National Cemetery in Florida.
If you care to read on, we have included a tribute by his granddaughter, Taylor.
My grandpa was a lot of things.
He jumped out of airplanes and liberated concentration camps in WWII.
He owned and operated his own well drilling company in NJ for over 50 years.
The son of Dutch immigrants, he loved European culture and took countless trips to Western Europe.
He loved collecting art—and even owned an art gallery for a time.
He was also an avid photographer, a self-taught pianist, and a comedian who always had a joke clipped from the newspaper in his wallet.
Despite the many hats he wore, at the end of the day it was his character that defined him. He loved the Lord and let the Bible determine the way he lived his life.
He was meticulous to always be honest in everything he said and did. (2 Tim. 2:15)
He was extremely generous, but gave when no one was watching. (Mat. 6:3)
He bought shoes for missionaries. (Rom. 10:15)
He never gossiped or complained, but instead was forgiving and kind—even when others treated him badly. (Eph. 4:29)
He was faithful to my grandma for the 69 years they were married and loved his family well. (1 Pet. 3:7; Eph. 6:4)
The list could go on and on.
While in his latter years he lived with dementia, his sweet smile and fun personality shone through even until the end (he managed to stick his tongue out at us a few days before he died).
I know that when he met Jesus at the gates of Heaven, he was greeted with, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”