Through the life he lived each day, Dr. Peter Nortier exemplified what it means to be the hands and feet of the Lord he loved. He was on fire to bring others to Christ and tirelessly pursued spreading the grace, love, and mercy of the Savior. Peter was passionate about serving his congregation, but he was also deeply devoted to the family he shared with the love of his life. Through his radio program that spanned more than 50 years, he touched the lives of so many others whom he never even met. A man of honor, integrity, and compassion, Peter was a genuine blessing in every way. Amidst the colorful decade of the Roaring Twenties was the year 1924 that boasted of several noteworthy events. The IBM Corporation was founded and the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held on the streets of New York City while the Wrigley Building in Chicago was completed. This same year brought great joy to an active family from Grand Rapids, Michigan, as they welcomed a baby boy into their hearts and home on February 25th. Peter was the sixth of nine children born to his parents, Peter and Johanna (VanHoorn) Nortier, with his oldest four siblings being born in the Netherlands. He was raised in the family home at 724 Marietta Street NE alongside his brothers and sisters.
In many ways Peter experienced a typical upbringing. He was raised in a strict home that was rooted in the Christian faith that became his constant companion. Peter’s family belonged to Coldbrook Christian Reformed Church, and he attended Creston Christian School during his earliest years. As a high school student Peter attended Creston High School where he was a member of the football team.
Not long after graduating from high school Peter enlisted in the Army Air Corps during the days of WWII. He honorably served as an aircraft mechanic in Mississippi. For the rest of his life Peter was proud of his military service.
After being discharged Peter attended Moody Bible Institute where he studied to be an evangelist and preacher. Not to be forgotten during this time was his introduction to the woman who would forever hold the key to his heart. Her name was Rainey Motley, and after falling deeply in love they were united in marriage on August 8, 1952. Together they were blessed with two sons, Timothy and Steve, who were born nine years apart.
With his education behind him, Peter was poised for a rewarding career in the ministry. He initially served in Huttig and Crossett Arkansas, and later in Bastrop, Louisiana, before returning to Michigan. At that time they settled in Almont where they served First Baptist Church. Peter was a strong leader who always had a vision for his church and provided clear teaching and a church free from debt. He was faithful to his congregation and was passionate about his preaching. Some common phrases in his sermons included, “Hold your seat,” and, “Make no bones about it
In addition to leading his congregation, Peter worked doing other things, too. He hosted a radio broadcast for over 50 years, the Mercies of God Radio Broadcast, beginning in 1961, which was heard on over 89 stations and also on the internet at sermonaudio.com. Peter spent Thursday nights practicing for his program, and he loved reading letters from his audience as he had quite a following. From 1962 through 1983 he often drove a school bus part-time, which was a great fit since he loved being with kids and was a vivid storyteller. He occasionally worked as a substitute teacher for history or English. Peter enjoyed taking care of his garden, which yielded so much that he gave quite a bit away, too. He also had a love for Lionel trains that he passed on to his boys.
After 35 years in Michigan Peter and Rainey returned to Arkansas where he continued to serve a church until he officially retired. He also stayed busy as a chaplain, preaching at area nursing homes. Peter and Rainey loved it when their granddaughter Lauren came to visit. Christmas celebrations were often spent with everyone at their home. As he got older Peter really began treasuring his family even more deeply, and spending time with his granddaughter, sons and family, was always a highlight.
All who knew Peter would agree that he was very outgoing and loved to talk. He believed that anyone could follow Christ, which was evidenced by his constant outreach to anyone who was near. Peter served as a chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol in Michigan and Arkansas. He was also a volunteer chaplain at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
Dr. Peter Nortier was big in stature, but nothing compared to his size of his heart. He could be a bit opinionated and almost always thought that it was his way or the highway, yet his desire to witness to others was always first and foremost in his life. Peter was overjoyed to become a grandfather, and the timeless legacy he leaves behind will be proudly carried on by those who follow him.