by Selma Kolke –
Daniel Arthur Kolke was born March 13, 1930 in Kurgany, Poland to Arthur and Mathilde (Oelke) Kolke. Daniel was named after his mother’s brother, and as a child he was called Danush, Danja, and Danl. Later he became known as Dan. Growing up he had little time to play, employed at age six doing chores, attending cows and helping his father with blacksmithing. Dan’s family was poor, so they made balls out of cow hair and toys out of discarded materials.
Dan began school in Antonufka, Poland where his parents had purchased a home and his father started his blacksmith business, working mostly on farm equipment. After Dan’s father served two years in the Polish Army, he remained on “Standby Reserve.” At the onset of World War II, when Dan was nine years old, his father had to rejoin his old army regiment to fight the Germans. This was a scary time for the family, because they were a German family living in Poland. One night, they were chased from their home by a mob of Polish locals. Dan’s mom took the children and hid in the woods for three weeks until the fighting was over. The family lost everything, including their home and business. The German army then relocated the Kolke family on a farm to Biala, Poland to produce needed crops for the war effort. They stayed in Biala until January 1945 when they fled from the Russian advancing forces. They spent nine months traveling by horse and covered wagon, moving further West to ensure that they did not settle inside the Russian sector. For two years they lived in Wrexen, and then they moved to a farm in Laubach, Germany. The war was over, and the family was once again safe inside the American sector. Dan fell in love with life on the farm.
In 1951, Dan turned twenty-one and his parents encouraged him to immigrate to Canada. His parents and friends called Canada “the land of milk and honey.” They finally convinced him to give it a try. And in July 1951, Dan traveled across the Atlantic on “Miss Nelly.” He found a variety of jobs. Dan was discouraged, feeling this was not the life in Canada he had hoped for. He began planning to return to Germany. However, it was at Larder Lake Lumber Camp where Dan would experience the most transformational event of his life. Dan was holding a lamp when a co-worker accidentally pushed Dan. Dan slipped and fell with the lamp on two cans of kerosene. Dan became a “living torch.” All Dan remembers was throwing himself on a bed while covering his eyes with his hands and screaming, “Ich bin verloren” (I am lost). Eternity flushed before Dan’s eyes. Two men quickly covered him in a blanket and rolled him on the ground. It was a miracle he survived the initial accident. Dan was wrapped, put on a train and eventually transferred to Toronto General Hospital where he would undergo numerous surgeries and procedures with a long and painful recovery ahead. Being on death row, swaying between life and death was an indescribable experience. It would be eighteen months and twenty surgeries before Dan was finally discharged.
In the hospital Dan was severely depressed. On top of his debilitating condition, he did not understand or speak English. Dan’s hands were severely burned; therefore, they fused them so that he was able to grasp and help himself. Dan called his fingers “my hooks.” The hospital staff reached out to a local German Church and they sent a group of young adults to visit Dan. One of these men was Desmond Eagle, who faithfully visited and taught Dan English. Des and Dan remained lifelong friends. Reverend Alfred Price, who encouraged Dan that his life was not over, suggested that Dan should become a minister. Dan was amazed because he had no education and he was only beginning to learn English. Nevertheless, Dan’s decision to accept the challenge brought peace to his troubled soul. Dan began pursuing his education starting with his High School Diploma while still recovering from his injuries.
Hardworking and driven to share the Gospel, Dan would spend the next seventeen years furthering his education. He attended the Christian Institute at Edmonton, Alberta, and earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Manitoba in 1958. In the summer months he served at a youth camp in Moosehorn, Manitoba. The summer of 1959 was a special highlight for Dan. While studying Hebrew at Princeton, Dan visited his uncle on weekends in Union City, New Jersey. This is where Dan met Selma Fahl, they fell in love, and set their wedding date for May 28th, 1960.
In 1961, Dan received his Bachelor of Divinity degree from the North American Baptist Seminary in Sioux Fall, South Dakota. He was ordained and served as lead pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Shattuck, Oklahoma. In December 1961, their first son Desmond was born.
Dan wanted to further his education so he accepted a call in 1962 to the Second German Baptist Church in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. And in July 1963, their second son Raymond was born. In 1964 Dan earned his Masters in Sacred Theology from Biblical Seminary in New York City. Dan also studied “Islam Faith” for one year under a Palestinian visiting professor at the University of New York City. While doing his residential work at Toronto, Dan briefly served the Immanuel Church in St. Catharines, Ontario. In April 1965, Dan returned to the Second German Baptist Church in New York, sold the Church, relocated to Little Neck to build a new Church. However, the Secretary of the American Baptist invited Dan to a Church that needed help. With the help of Frank Pastore, the Second German Baptist merged with the Alden Terrace Baptist to become the “Valley Stream Baptist Church.” In 1967, Dan returned to Toronto to do some more studying for his doctorate.
In 1968, Dan pastored Central Park Baptist Church in Buffalo, New York. While there, he taught at the University of Buffalo “With Jesus through the Ages, The Origin of Christianity, and Introduction to the New Testament” for which Dan wrote his own texts. In December 1970, their third son Daniel Jr. was born. In 1971, Dan earned his Doctorate in Theology and was Knighted at Victoria University, the University of Toronto. And in 1973, he published his first book, “The Church and her Walls.” From 1973 to 1978 Dan served the First Baptist Church in Ilion, New York. In 1975, guest speaker Dr. O. Dean Nelson united Protestants and Catholics to “Get Closer to God and Each Other” in a week of “Spiritual Renewal.” And in 1976, all Ilion Churches joined in celebrating the Bi-Centenial Birthday of the USA. Due to Dan’s many civic activities, Dan became a US citizen in 1976. From 1978 to 1980 Dan served the First Baptist Church in Fulton, New York. Here, he continued his writing by publishing a weekly column for the Oswego Valley News entitled “Stop and Think.”
In 1980 Dan’s family moved to Washington State to be closer to his parents, who lived in Vancouver, B. C. Dan served the Gorst First Baptist for two years, and then Edmonds First Baptist where he stayed until he retired in 1993. After retirement, Dan served part-time as an interim pastor in Hansville, Port Townsend, and Kittitas, Washington. In all, Dan served thirteen Churches in his career, taught at two colleges, and three seminaries: Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto, New York State University in Buffalo, Linfield College in Oregon, Far West Seminary in Oakland, California, Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. He also led many minister’s and teacher’s training sessions.
One of Dan’s joys was writing poems to Selma “Expression of Appreciation, Love, Care, and Life Together” throughout their 61 years of marriage. Dan was a prolific writer, authoring numerous articles and publishing one book. He has completed forty additional manuscripts, 130 studies/articles and has published over 1,373 articles on his weekly blog, “Stop and Think.” Dan’s writings represent religion and ideologies through the eyes of different cultures and languages using the original texts, which he fervently studied to present Jesus’ Words as the ultimate authority of our faith.
Dan’s favorite Bible verse was John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” His favorite hymn was, “The Love of God is Greater Far.” He also liked “Peace I leave with You, I Believe, It is well with my Soul, Traumerei, and Danny Boy.” His favorite hobby was taking care of his “country place” and his loves were his wife Selma, being with his children, and his grandchildren.
Dan touched hundreds of lives with his kind and caring ways. He was compassionate and genuine, always willing to give a hug and talk about what’s important to you first, or give encouragement and gentle direction when he saw something amiss. Dan says that he lived his life by these simple rules: “I kept out of trouble, kept busy with my work, and kept up with what I had.” If you asked Dan how he was, he usually would just say “I’m behaving.”
On June 24th, 2021 at the age of 91, Daniel Arthur Kolke’s wish was granted, “I am finally going home to be with Jesus, my Lord and Savior.”
He is survived by his wife Selma Kolke, sister Margaret MacDonald, and brother Reinhart Kolke, his sons Desmond D. Kolke and wife Kristin (Enumclaw), Raymond D. Kolke and wife Crystal (Renton), Daniel J. A. Kolke and wife Robyn (North Bend), and grandchildren Kaitlin, Josef, Russell, Spencer, Sheila Rae, Leslie, James and Daniel III, as well as many relatives, friends, and acquaintances.
Dan is preceded in death by his parents Arthur and Mathilde Kolke, his siblings Helga, Blumgart, Eric, and Ingrid, and his grandson Benjamin Kolke.
A celebration of life will be held for Dan at Cascade Covenant Church in North Bend, Washington on August 7th, 2021 at 2:00 pm.
Note: Dan’s life wish was that someone would publish his writings for posterity.
So, in lieu of flowers, the family is asking to contribute towards Dan’s writings to be published.