Malcolm Edward Willems

Sep 28, 1943 – Jul 15, 2010

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Malcolm Edward Mac Willems
September 28, 1943 – July 15, 2010

Malcolm Edward Willems, known to many as 'Mac,' was born September 28, 1943 in Caripito, Venezuela to missionary parents Isaac Willems and Winona Tinsley Willems.
Shortly thereafter, the family returned to the States, where they lived in Kansas and Illinois while Mac's father completed his education. Eventually they settled on a mission in Vallecitos, New Mexico. Mac's sister, Sue, was born at the mission hospital in nearby Española during these years, and he became a devoted and attentive brother.
In 1953, Mac moved to the town of Ordway, Colorado after his father accepted a pastorate at the Evangelical United Brethren Church, where Mac would meet his future wife, Marilyn, and her family. He spent his teen years in this close-knit farming community. He played flute in the school's marching band, a talented group that proudly represented the town in competitions throughout Colorado.
In 1960, after his junior year of high school, the family relocated to Everett, Washington. Mac graduated from Everett High School in 1961. His mother passed away that summer. During this difficult time, he was much encouraged by his family, the faith and integrity of his friends and mentors in the church, and those he would soon meet in college.
Following high school, Mac attended Seattle Pacific College. He originally intended to study medicine, but instead discovered his passion for French language and literature. While at Seattle Pacific, he sang with the Oratorio Society and served on the yearbook editorial staff. He was also active in the drama department, where he especially enjoyed playing the role of Shylock. He graduated in 1966 with majors in French and history, as well as a minor in English.
On August 19, 1966, he married Marilyn Entenman, a native of Ordway, Colorado, whom he had known since his childhood there. Because Marilyn attended Westmar College in Iowa, the two had a long-distance courtship ending with a proposal atop the Space Needle, with a ring that Mac financed through his summer job driving a grain truck in eastern Washington.
The couple took up residence on lower Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. In September, Mac began his teaching career by commuting to the new French program at Pacific Junior High School in Des Moines, Washington. He chaired the foreign languages department from 1970 to 1979. He also taught English, introducing students to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, one of his favorite authors.
In the summer of 1970, Mac and Marilyn traveled extensively in Europe, returning with slides that he would show to hundreds of students over the next several years. Later that year, they purchased a house and settled permanently in the Kent-Des Moines community, where they raised two children, Kate and Andrew.
While teaching, Mac found time to complete a master's degree in French literature at the University of Washington in 1973.
After more than a decade at Pacific Junior High, Mac transferred to Mount Rainier High School in 1981, where he continued to teach French and English. He taught with energy and scholarship respected by students and faculty alike. He creatively enhanced his classes with any cuisine or media appropriate to the subject matter, as well as a healthy dose of geography. Outside the classroom, he coached award-winning Knowledge Bowl teams.
In 1987, he became the high school's first coordinator of the International Baccalaureate curriculum, which became firmly established under his leadership. He began to teach the I.B. Theory of Knowledge class, enjoying the opportunity to broaden his background in philosophy and science. He was also active in the Northwest International Baccalaureate Association, which highly valued his dedication and expertise. His first concern was always for students and he often tailored the curriculum to their unique circumstances. Not surprisingly, graduating students frequently requested his letters of recommendation.
During these years, Mac was also highly active in his church community, first at West Hill Community Baptist Church in Kent, and the last 20 years at Midway Community Covenant Church in Des Moines. He served as a deacon and an elder and on various committees. He taught all levels of Sunday school, ranging from toddlers to adults. He sang in choirs and quartets. He directed entire Christmas programs. He hosted Bible studies in his home. Most recently he served in a pastoral care capacity as a Stephen Minister.
In 2002, Marilyn, Mac's wife of 36 years, passed away after a long illness, during which he gave faithful care and support.
Mac retired from 38 years of teaching in 2004. In retirement, he traveled extensively as a consultant to new I.B. schools and as an inspector of examination procedures. He combined a love of reading with service and began recording books for the blind at Tape Ministries Northwest in Burien, Washington. His interest in the French countryside of the Tour de France broadened into an avid interest in bicycle racing. He also traveled frequently to spend time with family.
Mac passed away suddenly on July 15, 2010 at the home where he and his family had resided for 40 years. He will be missed by his family, friends and colleagues. Although he is absent from this community, we rejoice that he is present with the Lord Jesus, in whose power and promises he trusted for new life.
Malcolm was preceded in death by his wife, Marilyn. He is survived by his daughter, Katherine Heisen Peter of Kent, Washington; son, Andrew Willems Rachel of Boston, Massachusetts; sister, Sue Taylor Craig of Marietta, Georgia; nephew, Matthew Taylor, of Marietta, Georgia; several of his wife's family, the Entenmans of Colorado; one aunt, Hulda Becker, of Chehalis, Washington; and numerous cousins.

A graveside committal service will be held Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 10:00 at:

Bonney-Watson Washington Memorial Park
16445 International Blvd.
Seatac, Washington

A memorial service will be held Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 1:00 at:

Midway Community Covenant Church
22460 24th Ave. S.
Des Moines, Washington

There will be a closed-casket visitation between 2:00 and 5:00 on Friday, July 30, 2010 at Washington Memorial Park.

Flowers will be provided by:

Washington Park Florist
16445 International Blvd.
Seatac, WA 98118

Memorial donations may be made to:

World Vision
P.O. Box 9716, Dept. W
Federal Way, WA 98063-9716

Seattle's Union Gospel Mission
P.O. Box 202
Seattle, WA 98111-0202

Tape Ministries Northwest
840 S. 192nd St.
Seattle, WA 98148


Irma Entenman
La Junta , CO
Jul 25, 2010

Mac and Marilyn were very gracious people.I remember their wedding in Ordway. We had a 2 year old who got his fingers in their wedding cake. They are missed and will always be in our hearts. Irma

Judy Earle
Seahurst, WA
Jul 25, 2010

Collaborating with Mac for nearly 40 years of teaching... Sharing the initial years of French Camp... Diving into his wonderful cream puffs... Giving him a start of my muguets lily of the valley so he could have them in bloom for May 1st... Catching him holding hands with Marilyn in the IB office. These are a few memories of one of my favorite colleagues. I miss him. I'm picturing him and Marilyn walking hand in hand in the 400 hall at the old Mt. Rainier building, as I saw them a few times late after school during Marilyn's final years. They were such a devoted couple, and now are together again. Adieu.

Pat Fairbanks
DES Moines, WA
Jul 25, 2010

One of the sweetest men to walk this earth- Mac you will be sorely missed!

Pastor Kent Murahashi
Tukwila, WA
Jul 26, 2010

Our prayers and condolences are with the family in this time of loss. Mac was a very kind and gentle man of God, and a true servant of our Jesus. We will miss him on this side of heaven, but rejoice that he is reunited with his dear wife Marilyn. Grace and peace to the family as they fondly remember and thank God for the presence of this dear man in their lives.

Sharon Lambuth
Des Moines, WA
Jul 27, 2010

I had the wonderful opportunity to be with Mac when we trained to be Stephens Ministers. I will never forget his thoughtfulness and tender heart, as well as his smile and the "velvet" voice. I will also never forget his caring ways, sense of humor, and support throughout the loss of my dad to cancer. You are gone from this world, but present in the Lord. You will never be forgotten. We will miss you!

Gary Higashi
Portland, OR
Jul 27, 2010

Mac was easily one of the most intelligent, creative, and interesting persons I've ever known. He had a great sense of humor and was, most of all, a great friend. We met when we were still teenagers at Seattle Pacific--almost fifty years ago! We became good friends--along with Dennis, Larry, Bob, Gail. I remember a time when we went to the Seattle Center and shared one ice cream shake--that's right--one with a bunch of straws. He enjoyed acting and I recall the great job he did with Shakespeare to contemporary work. His work as a teacher brought him both personal and professional success, so much so, that he continued to bring his gifts of teaching during his retirement. He deeply loved his wife Marilyn and their two children. Mac was also a genuinely spiritual man who truly lived his Christian convictions. I miss my good friend and send my thoughts and condolences to his son and daughter and to the rest of his family.

Shari Gettis
Des Moines, WA
Jul 27, 2010

After years of knowing "Mr. Willems" as a teacher, he became "Mac" and a trusted friend. We served on several committees together at Midway Covenant and enjoyed many discussions about books and our faith. His desire to be in God's will and see reconciliation and peace was a wonderful example to me. I will miss Mac greatly as a mentor and a friend. God's peace to his memory and peace and grace to his family.

Glori Hughes
Des Moines, WA
Jul 27, 2010

I will never forget the kindness of Mac and Marilyn. Their steadfast commitment to each other and the Lord. As members of Midway Covenant we were going through a difficult time when our son, then 9 had to have heart surgery, and Mac and Marilyn, Marilyn then fighting cancer, would always find time to send cards and ask how we were doing. Their kindness touched my heart deeply. I could hardly see beyond our situation, but they fighting their battle found the strength to send cards of encouragement, and that in turn taught me, I too, could fight and love as Christ loves. We live close to the entrance of Saltwater State Park and Mac would drive by almost daily and we would wave. I'm going to miss that. When we saw him at church a few months ago, he said that he continued to pray for us every time he drove by our house. What a faithful man. He will be greatly missed.

Glori Hughes

Heather Jahn
Kent, WA
Jul 27, 2010

I had the priveledge of having Mac as a teacher in High school and knowing him at Midway Covenant Church. He will be missed. He had such a sweet spirit in all things. I am so sorry for your loss. We will be there to support your family for the funeral.

Matt Binz
Normandy Park, WA
Jul 28, 2010

I will always remember Mac as a gentle man with a magnificent voice. Lee, Alex and I enjoyed having Mac at church and in the choir. He was a very loving person.

Jonathan Crane
Toronto, ON
Jul 28, 2010

Mac Willems was a great teacher in and out of the classroom whose eyes twinkled with wry humor and intensity. His high expectations of students, scholarly intellect, attention to detail, and love of literature were welcome to me in high school. Indeed, he demonstrated that passion for learning is nothing to scoff at but something to nurture in every age and in every way. I hope to be as good a pedagogue as he was. May his memory be for a blessing.

Debra Toman Reetz
Belmont, CA
Jul 28, 2010

Mac Willems was a wonderful man. He was my teacher at Pacific and Mt. Rainier, and I have many fond memories of not just his classes, but of the man himself. He was a kind and supportive teacher and friend to all who passed through his doors. I will miss him very much.

Louise Gupta
Normandy Park, WA
Jul 29, 2010

We read with great sadness that Mac has passed away. He was a true Christian that walked the talk. Both our children Ramon and Maya have benefited greatly from his guidance as an IB instructor. We will always remember him with great respect. Our deepest condolences to his family. In Christ, Louise and Alankar Gupta

Louise Gupta
Normandy Park, WA
Jul 29, 2010

We read with great sadness that Mac has passed away. He was a true Christian that walked the talk. Both our children Ramon and Maya have benefited greatly from his guidance as an IB instructor. We will always remember him with great respect. Our deepest condolences to his family. In Christ, Louise and Alankar Gupta

Bob and Linda Morgan
Colorado Springs, CO
Jul 29, 2010

From our growing up years in Ordway and all the years that followed, Mac and Marilyn's friendship blessed and graced our lives. They were a special gift from our Lord and we cherish every precious memory. Our prayers and heartfelt sympathy are with all their dear family.

Dan and Doris Dungan
Auburn, WA
Jul 29, 2010


Friend, classmate, brother in the Lord, servant, choir member, drama partner, fellow Stephen Minister, encourager. We have loved laughing, crying, praying, and serving together for four and a half decades and loved you more than a brother. You leave a rich heritage and lasting influence. More importantly, you leave a legacy of Christ in you. You are in a great place now, but we miss you and will join you soon. The world is a better place because of you.

John DeLong
Auburn, WA
Jul 29, 2010

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Mac. I will miss him dearly.

Lawrence Larry Boyce
Seattle, Wa. 98125, WA
Jul 29, 2010

Mac was a Renaissance Man in all of the best ways a human can be--an angel of Mennonite peace, loving compassion in action, knowledge, wisdom-- and a deep acceptance of the frailties of others including mine & all his many friends.

We met under a shared umbrella at 4:30 a.m. in a September drizzle as Freshmen signing up for college classes. We were co-editors of the SPC Tawashi yearbook for two years. No quarter went by without us sharing classes in History, English, Education, Psychology and even P.E. As teachers & parents the last 49 years sped by for both of us and I assumed there would be more hugs and French/Italian cheek kisses when we this June celebrated my 67th birthday. Ciao, Gentle Intellectual Genius of the World.

Now, amid a flood of joyful tears, I recall driving Mac, Marilyn, Dennis and Carole on their U.K. European Honeymoons. Mac, you matured well

like a fine French Bordeaux wine.

I will miss the humor and the "Mac Loud-Laugh Chuckle" With deep affection

IB Americas
New York, NY
Jul 29, 2010

Mac will be missed by all; the IB Americas staff as well as every colleague he came in contact with. While many of our volunteers possess exceptional IB expertise not all exude the wonderful spirit of warmth and generosity that defined Mac on every assignment. IB Americas is privileged to have worked with him throughout the years, appreciate his contributions, and he will be fondly remembered.

IB Americas and the Diploma Programme Team

Tape Minsitries NW
Sea Tac, WA
Jul 30, 2010

We are all so stunned at Mac's passing. He was such a fine example of living his life for Christ and he was a wonderful asset as one of our narrators. We will miss him so much!

John King
Auburn, WA
Jul 31, 2010

Mac was a wonderful man and a wonderful role model for younger men. He always had a great sense of humor, and a clear perspective on issues that he was able to share in a loving and respectful way. And his love for our Lord was evident to all. We will all miss him; but he's home!

Kent , WA
Jul 31, 2010

I will miss this knowledgeable loving man from church clear back to West Hill Baptist in Kent till more recently here at Midway Covenant and mens Thursday morning bible study breakfast. He was a month younger then my departed wife Linda would have been. May the good Lord comfort your loss. Your family is so devoted to each other and I look forward to the day we will reunite with him to see him later with Jesus.

SeaTac, WA
Jul 31, 2010

He was a great IB teacher and a mentor. I would not be able to complete the full IB diploma program without his encouragements. He was a very nice, generous, and intelligent man. He was also an excellent cook!

May he rest peacefully in heaven. He shall be greatly missed.

Kristen Sullivan
Graham, WA
Jul 31, 2010

I was a student of Mr. Willems.. He was an intense teacher.. I learned a lot from him.. an to this day.. I love Brie cheese.. He had passion.. I remember the last time I saw him..I served him and his kids dinner... seems like yesterday.. I just want to say thank you for touching my life, and teaching me... Mr. Willems..

Bob Gorham
Tacoma, WA
Aug 1, 2010

Mac and I were college friends at Seattle Pacific. We worked together on the Tawashi yearbook staff and other service groups at SPC. Mac always had a keen intellect and a way of expressing himself that cut to the chase. The college 'gang' of us had our share of adventures at the Seattle World's Fair, Larry's beach place in the San Juans and many long discussions solving the world's problems. Mac was my best man at Mary's and my wedding in 1966. I am so grateful for the memories of times our families were together through the intervening years. Mac's friendship was especially precious during the last year and a half as he came to visit Mary and me frequently during Mary's illness and passing. Well, dear friend, I had hoped that the old college 'gang' would have many more lunches and walks together. You will be greatly missed.

Marilyn Holms
Des Moines, WA
Aug 1, 2010

Max was a dedicated gentle spirited follower of Christ. I served on the adult education committee at Midway Covenant. I appreciated is kindness and strong christian values. It has been such a pleasure to have known him. Marilyn Holms

Amy Vander Poppen
Des Moines, WA
Aug 1, 2010

I was extremely fortunate to have Mr. Willems as a professor/guru the word "teacher" just does not do this man justice for 3 years at Mount Rainier High School. He had extremely high standards which all his students strove to exceed. He knew we were capable of excellence even when we weren't so sure of it ourselves. I still remember him mapping out an enormous timeline of French history across the classroom. He inspired a life-long love of all things French for me and I am grateful to have known him.

Laura King
Auburn, WA
Aug 3, 2010

Dear Mac, you are missed. Thanks to God for your tender heart. Thanks to God for your ministry at Midway. I will never forget your humility and Chris-likeness. A special treat was listening to you read the scriptures. Go well and go with God.

Ann Van Der Meersche
Modesto, CA
Aug 18, 2010

So sorry to hear of Malcolm's passing, but interesting to know of his adult life as a husband, father, and teacher.

I knew Mac in High School and at SPC - he was, as a teen and young adult, an amazing person - and obviously that continued as an adult - which does not surprise me at all. His wonderful personality, sense of humor, caring and concern for people, and his amazing intellect, which was totally mixed with practicality and ability to relate to everyone was very important to me as a young person, and gave me a self confidence I really needed at the time.

My sympathy is extended to his sister Sue, his children and his many friends.

lynn coonfield-morisset
normandy park, WA
Sep 8, 2010

Teacher, neighbor......thanks for the memories Mr. Willems.

Cari Andrews Foote
Tacoma, WA
Mar 10, 2011

Mr. Willems was my french teacher at Mt. Rainier. What I remember, and still tell people of my 'french class final' is sitting with Mr. Willems at his desk and having a conversation in french. I remember being terrified to do this. At one point, Mr. Willems asked me the same question three times. I kept guessing what the proper response was all the while thinking I was going to fail the final because he had a serious look on his face. After my third failed attempt, he cracked a smile as if trying not to. I was terribly shy and know now, 28 years later, that he humored me on more than one occasion! He was always so kind and considerate to every student. I have fond memories of french class with Mr. Willems. My sincere condolences to all of his family.

Andrew Green
Khandahar , WA
Mar 10, 2011

The best teacher I ever had. A great man, with an amazing ability to keep kids interested in the topic of the day. I still use the French he taught me. What a tremendous loss to our community. God rest his soul.

Beaverton, OR
Mar 10, 2011

So very sorry to hear of Mr. Willems passing. He was a kind and gentle man, and I remember him as my French teacher at Pacific Jr High many years ago. He had an elegance about him, which I respected. Reading of his devotion to his wife was very touching, and so true to his character. God bless his family.

Mike Church
Federal Way, WA
Mar 29, 2011

Mr. Willems, I am a little late in hearing the sad news of your passing, but I still tell stories to my students and fellow teachers about how amazing you were teaching a bunch of squirrelly 7th graders at Pacific Junior High in 1967-68. I know we were not always the best but we really learned French from you. I still hear echoes in my mind of your repeated drilling of phrases such as "Parce que c'est un jour de fete." Thank you. You made a difference in our lives!

Jeff Stewart
Auburn, WA
Apr 20, 2011

I took 3 years of French from Monsieur Willems at Pacific Jr.. High in the mid-1970's. I can honestly say that he was my favorite teacher, bar none. His patience, attention to detail and flair for making class fun assured that I did well in his class and never forgot him.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Willems, and thank you for everything. My thoughts and condolences are with his family.

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