Life Story / Obituary
With a genuine love of people, deeply rooted faith, and a persevering spirit, Alene Weidman lived each moment fully. Spanning nearly a century, Alene's life bore witness to times of tremendous trial and profound peace and prosperity. With her beloved husband and family at her side, Alene met each day as a gift and welcomed every person as a friend. An unwavering source of love and support, Alene devoted herself to her family and friends, inspiring adventure and laughter along the way. In Alene's good company, everything was better; there was no hardship that could not be lessened, and life's joys were always richer. Cherished by many, Alene will long be remembered and so very missed.
The 1920s were an age of dramatic social and political change. Post-war peace, a booming economy, rising wages for most Americans, and falling consumer prices resulted in a higher standard of living for most. Tremendous confidence, prosperity, and previously unknown comforts marked this roaring decade when a person's success was largely determined by their ability to identify their desires and then work to make them a reality. For Henry and Henrietta (Hoogerhyde) Sweers, this vibrant decade grew even brighter on October 19, 1926, as they welcomed their daughter Alene into their hearts and home.
Growing up at 1021 Courtney Street on the NW side of Grand Rapids, Alene enjoyed a good childhood rich in family values. The fourth of the Sweers' six children, Alene's siblings were her first friends, and they remained close her entire life. Growing up during the Depression proved a powerful influence on the rest of her life, and though the family faced struggles, Alene always felt she had had enough. She long remembered her father standing in long lines for bread and cheese, and there were always clothes to trade with her sisters. A social child, Alene easily made friends and enjoyed many good times skating in winter and swimming in the summer at nearby Richmond Park. Before completing her education at Union High School, she attended West Leonard Elementary and Harrison Park schools. She also learned valuable life skills from her mother, including sewing, baking, cooking, and cleaning.
While working at Fannie Farmer Candy Store in downtown Grand Rapids, a young man caught her eye when he walked into the chocolate shop. As she and Frank Weidman began talking and getting to know one another, she realized he was "the one." When she learned Frank made a living driving a bus, she offered to take him to his job on her way to work. At the end of her shift, she would return to his bus and ride his last few routes with him before bringing him home. Recalling these days years later, she always joked that she wanted to keep an eye on him so he didn't get away.
The happy couple married on September 4, 1947, at Trinity Reformed Church, Alene's church home throughout her life, and made their first home just a few blocks from her parents on the NW side of Grand Rapids. A few years later, Alene and Frank started their family with the birth of their daughter Barb and moved to their forever home on Hillcrest, NW, where she would live the rest of her life. Six years later, son David was born, and eight years later, when Tim arrived, the family was complete. While her children were young, Alene took time off from work to care for them. She returned to work as each child grew older and before the next one was born. For a time, she worked at Jacobson's Department Store and then, after another break, at Rose Patch Label Company.
While not one to verbalize much of her faith, Alene showed it with her countless acts of service. Her church family was always an essential part of her life. She thoroughly enjoyed singing in the choir, meeting with church friends on Sunday evenings after services, volunteering in several guilds, and participating in the Women's Auxillary. Alene inspired curiosity and creativity, embraced community, pursued justice, and engaged the sacred with humility and wonder, proving a powerful role model for how to live a faith-centered life.
Very much a creature of routine, Alene kept a neat and organized home. When she anticipated necessary changes in her schedule, she adapted quickly and always tended completed necessary tasks ahead of time. Mondays were laundry days, ensuring time to complete the ironing. Even while working third and second shifts, she always made sure her family had a meal ready. There were lots of delicious casseroles and wonderful home-baked treats; her apple pies were the stuff of legend. She made lunches for her kids to take to school each day, and there were always included homemade cookies to enjoy.
The family enjoyed many camping adventures. Their early tent camping trips to Mitchell State Park, near Cadillac, Michigan, advanced to campers which were followed by large trailers. Alene packed every possible thing to ensure nothing was forgotten and the family was as comfortable as possible while away from home. As older parents during Tim's school athletic years, they were busier with work but never missed a game, though sometimes mistaken as grandparents.
Alene and Frank enjoyed tending their home together. While he did most of the yard work, she cared for her hanging baskets and flowers. They were longtime members of the Casino Club and enjoyed many weekends in their trailer at Paradise Cove, where they made many friends. They enjoyed several vacations, often traveling with various friend groups, including a memorable trip to Europe. Her favorites were more likely Hawaii or cruises in the Caribbean.
Well known for her ready pranks, Alene enjoyed painting ceramics for many years and loved playing cards. She was always up for "just one more game," anywhere, anytime, with anyone. Some of her favorite games were Canasta, Thirtyone, and Polish Poker.
Always social, Alene was often on the phone. However, if grandkids came for a visit, particularly when a baby, she would quickly hang up to spend time holding the baby. She and Frank were wonderful grandparents who were generous with time and gifts, customarily given with a "just got a little something" for them. Any moment shared with family was a treasured moment. Alene especially enjoyed hosting Thanksgiving at her home. Combining her two favorite things, family and preparing wonderful meals, she relished the holiday.
After her beloved Frank passed away in 2004, Alene was quite independent with household tasks, but life was not the same without Frank. As her mind clouded with dementia, she found comfort in the company of her son David who moved in with her. She never missed a Friday hair appointment and enjoyed summertime concerts at the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds. Her tremendous pride in her family and quiet, steadfast faith were always present.
Alene passed away October 20, 2022, in the comforts of her longtime home. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Frank; her son-in-law, Paul ONeill; great-grandson, Jordan White; sisters, Marion Dryer, Gen Gunneson, Bernice Seabert; and brother, John Sweers. Alene is survived by her children, Barbara ONeill, David Weidman, and Timothy Weidman; grandchildren, Amy (Glenn) Delp, Scott Laraway, Brittany Clason, Ashley (Zachary) Wood, and Megan Weidman; and 12 great-grandchildren. Also surviving are her sister, Joyce (Don) Creswell, as well as several nieces, nephews, and cousins. Her funeral service will be held on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW, where friends are invited to visit with her family beginning at 10 AM. Friends are invited to visit with her family again at the Casino Club following the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Trinity Reformed Church are appreciated. To read more about her life, to share a memory, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com.