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Arvin Tilstra

Arvin Vernon Tilstra, age 92, of Hills, Minnesota, passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family on Monday, Aug. 7, 2023, at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
A visitation will be Friday, Aug, 11, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Reformed Church of Steen in Steen, Minnesota. A funeral service will be Saturday, Aug. 12, at 10:30 a.m. at the church with burial to follow at Eastside Cemetery in Steen.
Please visit to sign an online registry.
Arvin Vernon Tilstra was born on October 23, 1930, to Cornie and Fannie (Hommes) Tilstra on a farm southwest of Rock Rapids, Iowa. He attended country school in Lyon County, Iowa, finishing in Rock County, Minnesota. He then moved to a farm northwest of Steen, Minnesota. Arvin loved the farm and farm animals. He always had a favorite dog that would help him with chores around the farm.
After grade school, Arvin stayed home and helped his father farm until he was drafted into the Army during the Korean Conflict. He and Cena Mae made their profession of faith in February of 1952. While in the service, Arvin attended leadership school in Japan and was in Korea when the war ended. His rank was sergeant when he was honorably discharged in December of 1953.
He married the love of his life and neighbor, Cena Mae Elbers, on June 4, 1954. They made their home in a country school house that Arvin and his dad had remodeled. They lived there for eight years and bought a farm one and a half miles southeast of the school. Their marriage was blessed with three children. Arvin and Cena Mae loved to travel. Together, they crossed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, visited the Netherlands and Japan, and traveled to the northeast, southeast, northwest, and southwest portions of the United States. For many years they traveled to Mesa, Arizona, for a short while each winter. One of Arvin’s more memorable experiences was to go on the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. and to the Ark Encounter in 2019.
Arvin was very active in his home church, the Reformed Church of Steen, serving as an elder, deacon, Sunday school teacher, and catechism teacher for many years. He was also a longtime member of the American Legion in Hills. He enjoyed attending school activities of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Arvin was a neat farmer and kept up his machinery well. He enjoyed several “tractor rides.” Arvin loved his Lord, his family, his church, and his country. He appreciated good neighbors and enjoyed the farm. He never missed one year of combining.
On Monday, Aug. 7, 2023, while surrounded by his loving family at the Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, Arvin went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at the age of 92 years, 9 months, and 15 days.
Arvin is lovingly remembered by his wife, Cena Mae Tilstra of Hills, Minnesota; his children Donna (Norm) Sjaarda of Hills, Darwin Tilstra of Dundas, Minnesota, and David (Debbie) Tilstra of Hills; grandchildren, Jennifer Sjaarda (James Axelson), Angela Sjaarda, Caleb (Nicole) Tilstra, Jayna (Kevin) Tomalty, Micah Tilstra (Michelle Doty), Elijah Tilstra (Fiona Conner), Amanda (Mark) Meredith, Brooke (Matt) Watnemo, Isaac (Ashley) Tilstra, and Paige Tilstra; 15 great-grandchildren; siblings, sister-in-law Ann Tilstra of Hills, Ferd (Bernice) Tilstra of Hills, sister-in-law Joan Tilstra of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Inez Hoogeveen of Le Mars, Iowa, sister-in-law JoAnn Moeller of Mitchell, South Dakota; as well as many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Cornie and Fannie Tilstra; parents-in-law William and Elizabeth Elbers; brother and sister-in-law Fred and Anna Tilstra; brothers John Tilstra, Raymond Tilstra, and Cornie Tilstra; sister-in-law Evelyn Tilstra; brother-in-law Don Hoogeveen; and brother and sister-in-law Gilbert and Henrietta Elbers.
Blessed be his memory.