WILLOW SPRINGS, Mo. — Rev. Melvin Roy Holtzclaw, 93, entered the arms of the Author of his faith early Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at the home of his daughter in Willow Springs, Missouri.
His victory capped a 67-year chapter of his ministry here on earth. While his failing health in recent months challenged his body, his faith and humor were strong, and his spirit rose to the occasion as he received many phone calls and visits from loving family members and brothers and sisters in Christ from across the country.
His ministry partner and love of his life, Vonda Joyce, was at his side, loving and praying and in those final weeks, singing along with him the words of his mother’s favorite song, “Let Me Walk With You, Jesus” and “Just A Closer Walk With Thee.”
He was born July 31, 1927, in Emma Township, White County, Illinois, son of Rev. Martin and Mildred Arlene Holtzclaw. He grew up on the family farmstead, walking along a dirt road or cutting through fields, more than a mile to Seal’s School. He helped farm and worked as a truck driver and as a security guard in his younger years. The son of a preacher, he first heard the words of God’s love in his home and in the church his father built in New Haven, Illinois. He answered the call of preaching the gospel at age 26. His anointed ministry was a message of God’s love and salvation, and he was known for his gifted preaching and teaching from the Book of Revelation.
He married Vonda Joyce Baker February 26, 1950, and they raised their children in Rosiclare, Illinois, where he pastored First Apostolic Church of Rosiclare from 1963 to 1982. Their ministry later evolved into full-time evangelism and mission work in the HELPS ministry, assisting churches in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Granite City, Rockport and Mt. Vernon, Illinois, Birdseye, Indiana, Faith Farm in Florida, and establishing Community Chapel in Hardin County, Illinois. They also assisted missionaries in Haiti, Mexico, Puerto Rico and India.
He was the spiritual leader for his immediate and a large extended family for decades, giving loving counsel and powerful prayer intercession, performing weddings and vow renewals, and preaching messages of love and redemption at home-going celebrations for loved ones over the years.
Retirement was not a word that fit his calling. In later years, he continued preaching, even at age 90 — teaching and mentoring others. He never stopped sharing the love of Jesus, whether it was from the pulpit or in a casual visit. A mighty man of God, he was humble in his faith, living the lyrics of his favorite song: “Heavenly Father, I appreciate You! Heavenly Father, I appreciate You! I love You, adore You, I bow down before You! Heavenly Father, I appreciate You!”
His words live on in sermon archives lovingly preserved in digital format at https://anchor.fm/robin-boley/episodes/Spiritual-Warfare-euj52v?fbclid=IwAR1R8CCcfbDdlJsrtZwkhbtls3AnwT0JYr7tIsSejaEHLTltwlg0_OUFTs0
He is survived by his wife, Vonda Joyce Holtzclaw of Willow Springs, Missouri; children, Gloria (Dale) Watson of Willow Springs, Missouri, Karen Pickle of Kirksville, Missouri, Joy (Michael) Drumm of Springfield, Tennessee, and Daniel (Mindy) Holtzclaw of Jackson, Tennessee; 17 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, 10 step-great grandchildren, four great-great grandchildren and two step-great-great grandchildren; his siblings Margaret Stover of Norris City, Illinois, Sue (Dewey) Glore of Indianapolis, Indiana, June (Karl) Hamann of Pasco, Washington and Andrew Holtzclaw of rural Carmi, Illinois; and many loving nieces, nephews and brothers and sisters in Christ.
He is preceded in death by his parents; infant son, Roy Allen Holtzclaw; three infant siblings; brothers, Max and Lloyd “Sonny” Holtzclaw; sisters Wanda Randolph and Verla Davis; son-in-law Scott Pickle; great-grandson, Josiah Drumm; and great-great grandson, Alex Bowden.
Memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or to a missionary of choice in Reverend Melvin Holtzclaw’s memory.
A celebration of his life and burial will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday April 17, 2021 at Marshall Ferry Cemetery near Rising Sun. Friends and family may visit from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Stendeback Funeral Home in Carmi.