Bernard [Bernie] Zondervan was one of the two co-founders of the Zondervan Corporation, a religious book publisher in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He founded the company in 1931 with his brother Peter [Pat] Zondervan. Pat Zondervan had worked for seven years for his uncle, William Eerdman, also a religious book seller and publisher, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. So with Pat Zondervan’s experience in the religious book business, the two brothers knew what they were getting into. The two brothers started the business by selling books out of their paternal home in Grandville, Michigan, near Grand Rapids.
Following one year of selling from their home, the two Zondervan brothers opened a religious book store in Grand Rapids, and the business, over time, grew into a successful enterprise. Two years following the start of their business they published their first book, and ever since then they have focused on the book publishing part of the business. A fairly detailed description of the history of the business to the present day is provided in the biographical profile of Peter Zondervan.
Bernard Zondervan was born in Harrison, South Dakota on October 8, 1910. The family moved shortly after his birth to Grandville, Michigan. His parents apparently got divorced, and his mother, Petranella, remarried to Louis Zondervan. Zondervan adopted Petranella’s children, and as a result we only know Bernie as Bernard Zondervan. His father’s name and Bernie’s family birth name are not known. Bernie married a girl named Wilma Plas, and the couple had four children. Bernie had seven siblings, two of whom were his full siblings and five were half siblings. His full siblings were Peter and Mary Ann Zondervan, and his half siblings were George, William, Harold, Louis, Jr. and Ted Zondervan. Bernie was not blessed with a long life. He passed away in 1966 at the rather young age of 56 while suffering from cancer.
“House of Zondervan”, by James E. Ruark, 1981, 2006
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