Remembering Pella Pastry Baker Howard Jaarsma

PELLA, Iowa -- Howard Jaarsma passed away at the age of 88 on Monday in the Pella home he shared with his wife Ethel.

The community celebrated his life on Friday, but it hasn't stopped there.

Now his children are reflecting on his life and learning more about how he inspired many people during his 57 years owning Jaarsma Bakery with his brother, Ralph.

Howard Jaarsma, known as ‘the maker and baker of good things to eat,’ was a major part in making Jaarsma Bakery into what we know and love today.

“That was his life. That’s right, he spent most of every day in the bakery. He was married to my mom, but he might have been married to the bakery, because he just really lived there all the time,” Howard’s son Mike Jaarsma said.

Howard’s children said he had a passion for creating new things and he traveled far and wide to find inspiration.

“He would sample it, taste it and he would know what the ingredients are. We would come back and make that product and introduce it into our product line. So we were always expanding and introducing something new and keeping the product line fresh that way,” Howard’s daughter Diane Jaarsma Holm said.

Following Howard’s passing, Iowans are sharing stories with the Jaarsma family about how he changed their lives with his smile, baked goods and kind heart.

“A number of years ago this woman lost her husband and she became a widow with four children, a young widow. And she was in the bakery that week and my father was up helping her, it must have been during the time right before he closed the door in the evening. And he said, “Just wait here one minute.” And he went to the back room and he filled a box full of pastries for her and handed it to her and she said that has touched her all these years about how special that was for her,” Howard’s daughter Connie Jaarsma Marty said.

Howard’s family said his love extended beyond the bakery and even impacted the town of Pella in unforgettable ways.

“I think people back in the 70’s, they came to Pella as a tourist and they happened to stop by the bakery. Now they come for the bakery and they happen to enjoy Pella. Something happened during my dad and uncle’s tenure that made that transition happen,” Mike Jaarsma said.

The family is asking that all memorial contributions in Howard Jaarsma's name be sent to Pella Dollars for Scholars or the Pella Historical Society.