Jim Bandstra — a jokester to hundreds, a mentor to many and a friend to all — died peacefully Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at home, surrounded by family, friends and coffee time.
James Henry Bandstra was born June 20, 1955, in Grinnell, to Gilbert (Gib) and Joyce Nikkel Bandstra, the fourth of six children. He was raised on the family dairy farm north of Monroe and attended Pella Christian schools, graduating with the class of 1973. He and his family attended Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Pella, where he made profession of faith. While growing up, when not working on the farm, he enjoyed playing baseball, basketball and wrestling with his siblings. These years instilled in him a work ethic that would sustain him throughout the remainder of his life.
On April 9, 1976, he was united in marriage to Jayne DeKock in Oskaloosa, and their son Joshua was born. On Oct. 20, 1977, Jim was involved in a tragic farming accident where he suffered the loss of his lower legs, leaving him wheelchair-bound, giving him an opportunity to become an advocate for the handicapped for the next 40+ years. Following his accident, Jim and his family moved to Centerville where he attended Indian Hills Community College and their daughter Jessica was born. After obtaining his degree in mechanical drafting, Jim and Jayne’s lives took a different direction and they later divorced.
Jim was united in marriage to Kyla Vander Ploeg at the Little Brown Church in Nashua, May 13, 1983. They resided in Ames where he continued his education at Iowa State University earning a degree in dairy science. While in Ames, their daughter Jamie was born. Jim was president of Handicapped Student Organization at ISU and played on the Rolling Clones, a wheelchair basketball team. In 1984, Jim and his family moved home to Monroe, took over the family farm, and their son, Gabriel was born. Jim continued farming until 1997, while he and Kyla raised their two children. After retiring from farming, he utilized his many skills helping whomever he could with whatever project they needed completed. Jim was a jack of all trades and thought of his skid loader, golf cart and four-wheeler as a glorified wheelchair. The door was always open and the house was a playground to many of the kids’ friends. They enjoyed swimming in the pool, hide-and-seek in the dark and experiencing the anti-air machine. Memories made in his home are filled with belly laughs, egg sandwiches and home-made ice cream. It was not uncommon to find him at the Maid-Rite and throw some cheeseballs on his tab. Later in life, he and Kyla enjoyed spending time with friends and family watching live music and would travel near and far for a Bruce Springsteen concert. Jim’s last hurrah was his house upon the hill with the perfect view, where he chose to take his last breath.
Jim loved nothing more than having a cup of coffee and conversation with family and friends. There was no table too small for more to gather and no time not right for coffeetime. He was blessed with his Dutch heritage and would never pass up an almond-flavored treat. He was a natural entertainer and loved to capture the kids’ attention with his magic tricks. He rarely went without a pocket full of peppermints and would never pass up giving a wheelchair ride on his lap, with a couple of wheelies for good measure. In his last hours, he reminded his grandchildren to remember him once in a while and to make sure they prayed for everyone and every thing.
It has been said that Jim was one-of-a-kind and cannot possibly be described with words as he was so much to so many. He didn’t know a stranger and would always greet you with a sometimes-inappropriate joke. He is known for limitless humor and a larger-than-life personality. He proved throughout his life that he had the ultimate perseverance overcoming so many trials and tribulations. Jim built his own special relationship with each person he ever met with his orneriness, infectious smile, quick wit and compassionate spirit — he was an inspiration to all, loved beyond words and will be missed beyond measure.
Jim is survived by his wife, Kyla of Monroe; and his four children and their families: Joshua (Caron) Bandstra, Charlie Bandstra and Ella Thompson of Waukee; Jessica (Brandon) Blommers, Presley, Sadie and Gibson Blommers of Oskaloosa; Jamie Bandstra and special grand-dog Cork of Waukee; Gabriel (Nicole) Bandstra, Lily, Lux, River, Violet and Rowan Bandstra of Monroe. Jim is also survived by his siblings, Karla and Scott Baxter of Newton, Ron Bandstra of Pella, Jerry and Deb Bandstra of Pella, Lisa and Dave Wagner of Prairie City, Rob and Kim Bandstra of Pella; and his siblings-in-law, Kurt and Carol Vander Ploeg of Pella, Kristy and Dale Dixon of Monroe, Karlin and Darrell Hjortshoj of Monroe, Kathy Van Veen of Monroe and Kit and Kathy Vander Ploeg of Monroe; along with many nieces and nephews that he loved like his own. Jim was proceeded in death by his parents; and his parents-in-law, Arthur and Lila Vander Ploeg.
A funeral service will begin at 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 6 at the First Baptist Church in Monroe, with Pastor Jason Burns officiating. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday, April 5 at the First Baptist Church in Monroe. Memorials may be made to Monroe Ambulance. Condolences may be left for the family at coburnfuneralhomes.com.