Walter Eugene Zurfluh was born on August 8, 1926, on a 360-acre farm in rural Haddam, Kansas. His parents were Adolph and Lena Julia (Ryser) Zurfluh.
Walter attended all eight grades at Weaver School. He and his siblings walked about ¾ of a mile across the pasture and fields. Walter received Christ as his Savior at 12 years of age. He entered Agenda Rural High School in Agenda, Kansas in the autumn of 1940. He graduated in 1944 at 17 years of age as valedictorian of his class of 12 students.
On November 15, 1944, Walter was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II. After basic training in Fort Hood, Texas, he served in the European Theater of Operations when Dwight D. Eisenhower was supreme commander of allied forces in Europe. Later, his outfit was attached to the Third Army commanded by General George Patton. Walter received his honorable discharge on August 10, 1946 - two days after his 20th birthday.
Walter attended his first year of college, taking basic courses, at the University of Kansas during the 1946-1947 school year. He transferred to Kansas State University, where he attended from 1947-1950. He graduated in May 1950 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Administration with honors. He received his Master’s Degree in Agricultural Economics in February 1952.
From June 1951 to August 1952, Walter was employed as an Agricultural Statistician by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Kansas State Board of Agriculture, located in Topeka, Kansas. It was during this time that he met Nancy Fairbanks at Topeka Bible Church. They were married in August 1952.
From 1952-1955, Walter attended Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California and Nancy took courses at Biola College in Los Angeles, California. Walter graduated in the spring of 1955 with a Master of Divinity degree. They celebrated the birth of their son Philip Zurfluh that March.
In April 1956, the Pasadena-based ministry Eastern European Mission (EEM) accepted the Zurfluhs as missionaries. One of their earliest assignments included spending five years (1957-1962) ministering to refugees in West Berlin, Germany. People from East Germany had fled their part of the country into West Berlin and West Germany, seeking asylum from the Soviet Union's communist influence. The Zurfluhs observed the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. The Zurfluhs' work included evangelistic ministry in many refugee camps in West Berlin. Their daughter, Ruth (Zurfluh) Thomas, was born in February 1959.
In 1962, the Zurfluhs were reassigned to the home office in Pasadena, California for administrative duties. They also began representing EEM at churches and Christian colleges across the United States. The couple served with the organization until its merger with Slavic Gospel Association, Wheaton, Illinois on January 1, 1990. The couple then served as representatives within the western United States area until their retirement in June 1992. From September 1992 to December 31, 2011, the Zurfluhs served with Bibles and Literature in French (now Synergie Francophone) in a similar capacity as representatives in churches and Christian colleges across the western and mid-western United States.
Walter and Nancy were members of Pasadena Covenant Church in Pasadena, California since 1963.
Walter was placed on in-home hospice care in December 2022. He passed in his sleep in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 1st, 2023 at his apartment home at Pasadena Highlands at the age of 96. Well done, good and faithful servant!
Walter is survived by his son, Philip Zurfluh, who currently lives in Los Angeles, California and his daughter, Ruth (Zurfluh) Thomas, (Mrs. Warren Thomas) who currently lives in Pasadena, California. He is also survived by his four grandchildren: Jesse (Sara) Thomas in Richland, WA; Robyn (David) Clinton in Hayden, Idaho; Ryan (Kristen) Thomas in Lodi, California; and Alyson Thomas in Pasadena, California. Walter was very proud of his grandchildren and their accomplishments. He also has 9 great-grandchildren: Madelyn, Lainey, Micah, and Bennett Thomas (children of Jesse and Sara); David, Josiah, and Eden Clinton (children of Robyn and David); and Jacob and Grace Thomas (children of Ryan and Kristen). He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Shirley (Fairbanks) Burtch, of Denton, TX. He was preceded in death by his faithful wife of 60 years, Nancy, in 2012; his siblings, Marie (Zurfluh) Else, Florence (Zurfluh) Smith, Viola (Zurfluh) Stutesman, Larry Zurfluh; and his brother-in-law Bryan Burtch.
There will be a memorial service for Walter Zurfluh on May 6th, 2023 at 3:30pm at Pasadena Covenant Church with a reception to follow. We look forward to gathering together in loving memory of Walt and in praise of His Lord. 539 N Lake Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101
Memorial gifts in his honor may be given either to the Cross-Cultural Ministries of Pasadena Covenant Church, 539 North Lake Avenue, Pasadena, California 91101 or to Synergie Francophone, P.O. Box 629, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.
Arrangements are under the care of Douglass & Zook Funeral and Cremation Services, Monrovia, California.
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