William “Bill” B. Eerdmans Jr., longtime leader of the family-owned Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, passed away on November 13. He was 97.

Eerdmans began working at the Grand Rapids, Mich. company, which his father founded in 1911, when he was 13 years old. He became president in 1963 at age 40, taking over for his father. Subsequently, Eerdmans expanded the company, which had focused primarily on books geared for a Reformed Protestant audience, into an ecumenical and interfaith publisher, housing authors of diverse faith backgrounds and books on a range of social issues—while maintaining the scholarly title output.

Anita Eerdmans, wife of Bill, took over as president and publisher of the company in 2014. She reflected on Bill’s dedication to his work.

“He was responsible for some very important books and series that we published over the years, and our longtime interest in religious perspectives on important political and cultural issues grew out of his own personal concern about those issues,” Eerdmans said in a statement.

There will be a private family graveside service this week with a public memorial service to be planned when large gatherings are safe.