Sunday, June 25, 2017

V 7 N. 38 Jeff Zylstra, Western Michigan University, R.I.P.

Jeff Zylstra Western Michigan 1976-79
     Jeff Zylstra was a standout middle distance and distance runner at Western Michigan University in the 1970's.  He left behind a loving family and cohort of teammates and friends who have asked that his life be remembered on this blog.  In February when he was seriously ill, we mistakenly announced that he had died.  It was our error and we ask that that error be forgiven by those who have brought it to our attention.  His passing occurred on March 25, 2017.  Below is part of his obituary that appeared in the Grand Rapids Press to commemorate Jeff.

Jeffrey Roger Zylstra, age 59 of Grandville, passed away on Saturday, March 25. Heaven gained a track star! Jeff will be lovingly remembered by his wife, Janice, and son Jonathan. Jeff is survived by his parents, Roger and Angela Zylstra, who created the foundation of such a caring and loving man; his sisters, Mary and Dave Bristol, and Anne and Jeff Bidelman. Jeff was passionate about his running career at Grandville High School and Western Michigan University, where he still holds school records. Jeff loved music, reading about the Civil War, and creating hobbies with his son. Their love of historical trains, model railroad sets, restoring cars, and spending time fishing were shared with family and friends. Jeff's most recent career was as CFO for the Dominican Center at Marywood in Grand Rapids. He loved this career opportunity, which brought him a chance to share his leadership skills with focus on teamwork and fun, but mostly on faith.

      In looking through Mid-American Conference archives we've found that Jeff was selected Co-MVP at the Conference Outdoor meet in 1978 along with Bruno Pauletto of Central Michigan.  Jeff was also the Mid-American steeplechase champion in 1978 (8:59.79) and 1979 (8:53.00).

Below are several photos provided by Jeff's friends.

Western Michigan Broncos (1978)       Jeff Zylstra (front row , center) and Coach Jack Shaw (front row right)

Jeff leading a race in Kalamazoo

Lining up at NCAA's in Cobo Hall (1979) for a Mile prelim.
L - R  Zafar Ahmed (Austin Peay), Unknwn. (Eastern Illinois?), Sydney Maree (Villanova),
Jon Sinclair (Colorado St.), Randy Stoneman (Indiana), Jeff Zylstra (Western Michigan),
Mabry McCay (Georgia).

Jeff in action at Cobo with Sydney Maree and Jon Sinclair

The final was won by Sulieman Nyambui (UTEP) 3:57.89,  followed by Maree 3:59.91, Amos Korir (Villanova) 4:03.74,
David Warren (Murray State) 4:09.39, and Jon Sinclair (Colorado St.) 4:10.13
Special thanks to Zafar Ahmed, Bill Schnier, and Rick Lower for helping to identify some of the runners in these photos.

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