BATAVIA, IL (August 3, 2012) – A memorial service for retired Evangelical Covenant Church minister and administrator Harry Ekstam, 94, will be conducted at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, August 18, at Batavia Covenant Church. Pastor Mark Nilson will officiate. Ekstam died Thursday afternoon.
In addition to pastoring four Covenant Churches, Ekstam was a gifted administrator who supervised two children’s homes and the development of several Covenant Retirement Communities.
Ekstam was born March 7, 1918, in Moline, Illinois. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Augustana College and graduated from North Park Theological Seminary. He also completed graduate work at Harvard University.
Ekstam married Lorene Louise Hagberg on September 10, 1943. She died in 1987. He married Joyce White in 1988. She died in 2011.
Ekstam served as pastor at Covenant churches in Beverly and Lynn, Massachusetts; Hillside Covenant Church in Naugatuck, Connecticut; and Trinity Covenant Church in Oak Lawn, Illinois.
He was the administrator of the Kallman Children’s home in Brooklyn, New York, and Princeton Children’s Home in Princeton, Illinois. Ekstam said that managing the two children’s homes was his greatest success, explaining, “It was fun to be there all those years and to see the kids change.” The first child he met at the children’s home in Princeton remained a friend of the family.
Ekstam was the first administrator at the Samarkand in Santa Barbara, California, after Covenant Retirement Communities (CRC) took ownership of the property in 1967. The facility was in a financially tenuous position at the time, but Ekstam turned it around, said David Dwight, president of Covenant Ministries of Benevolence. During his time there, Ekstam also became the CRC regional vice president.
He moved to Batavia in 1977 and developed the Holmstad campus. At the time, there were 21 residents. It grew to nearly 600 by the time he left. He later served as interim administrator at Covenant Village of Florida in Plantation, Florida. Ekstam joined Covenant Trust Company as a part-time field representative before “officially retiring” in 2001.
“Harry instilled confidence in people,” said Dwight. “He brought out the best in them.”
Ekstam is survived by his daughter, Kathryn E. Schiller of Chicago, and son Gregory of Davis, California. In addition to his two wives, he was preceded in death by his daughter, Deborah Ann, who died in infancy.
A private interment will be Monday at West Batavia Cemetery in Batavia.