Tuesday, June 20, 2006
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
Orchard Hill Reformed Church
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
11:00 AM EDT
Orchard Hill Reformed Church
Life Story / Obituary
In 1915, Henry and Tena (DeJong) DeVries of Alpine Township learned that they would soon be expecting their fifth child. On February 8 of the next year, they were rewarded with a beautiful little girl, Eleanor. Eventually the family grew to include seven children, and Eleanor learned the importance of sharing and pitching in around the house. She and her siblings helped at their father's greenhouse and around the farm where Mr. DeVries raised foxes for furs. Eleanor attended Fairview School through the eighth grade, and then, like many of her peers, chose to go to work to help support the family. The stock market crash of 1929 sent the world into the Great Depression, and Eleanor's contributions to the family finances became more important than ever.
The DeVries family were members of the Fairview Reformed Church and in Sunday School and catechism classes, Eleanor learned the fundamentals of the faith that would lead her throughout her life. As she grew older, she served by being involved in the Christian Endeavor group, and teaching Sunday School. A young man named George Teitsma also attended Fairview and he and Eleanor were acquainted through church activities. In 1935, George asked Eleanor on a date and the rest, as they say, is history. They exchanged vows in 1938 and began a journey together that lasted nearly seventy years.
Eleanor quit her job at a pattern shop on the west side of Grand Rapids soon after their wedding. George was in the cattle business with his father, but shortly after they were married he became a postal worker, sorting mail on railroad cars. His job required a move to Detroit for a year, and while there Eleanor and George had a son, Larry. Soon after, George was transferred to Chicago and the family lived there until 1946 when they returned to Grand Rapids so that Larry could attend school there. They lived on Alpine NW near the church, but later moved to West Leonard. They purchased a house in March of 1956 only to see it destroyed by the Hudsonville/Standale tornado the following month, one of only two documented F5 tornadoes ever to hit Michigan. They rebuilt their home and moved in later that year.
In 1950, Eleanor began selling Nutrilite food supplement products, distributing for the company that would eventually become Amway Corporation. When Amway incorporated in 1958, George quit his job with the postal service and joined the Amway distributorship full-time, doing the office work while Eleanor did the selling and recruitment. They made a great team and enjoyed spending so much of their time together. The family traveled across the country in their Airstream travel trailer for business and pleasure, and the three of them enjoyed countless hours together. When Larry was grown and he and his wife Anne were traveling in Europe, Eleanor joined them and always fondly remembered her travels there.
Eleanor was a talented, enthusiastic businesswoman and was responsible for recruiting distributors all over the country. After a speech she gave at an Amway convention in Chicago, she received a warm, enthusiastic applause from an audience of over 5000 people, even though she talked beyond the established time limit. She and George were proud and thankful to attain the level of Diamond Distributor. Their greatest pride and joy, however, was found in their family. When Eleanor learned that she was going to be a grandmother, she was thrilled. She cherished every hug, smile, and giggle from her three grandbabies and was excited to watch them grow and learn.
Besides her family and her work, Eleanor had two other passions: fishing and golf. The family often vacationed at places with favorable fishing spots, such as Drummond Island where Eleanor insisted she lost the biggest fish she had ever caught, it being too big to fit in the net. They purchased one of the first Winnebagos owned in Michigan and took it throughout northern Michigan for more fishing. For several years, Eleanor and George spent two or three months in Florida each winter and of course, Eleanor took the opportunity to surf fish. Florida was also conducive to her second love, golf. Back home, she and George moved to a home on a golf course in Canadian Lakes just north of Grand Rapids. Eleanor and a friend started a Friday morning golf league with several other women, usually as a scramble with prizes. Eleanor fell two inches short of her dream of a hole in one, but she achieved virtually every other goal she ever had.
Eleanor lived a well-rounded life, enjoying her precious family and her work with optimism and hope. She provided her loved ones with the example of a woman who worked hard, took pride in a job well done, and always thought of her family first. In 2005, Eleanor suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed, requiring her to move into an assisted care facility. She passed away from complications of that stroke on Friday, June 16, 2006, and entered the presence of the Lord.
Eleanor is survived by her husband, George, her children, Dr. Larry and Anne Teitsma, her grandchildren, Nathan, Marc and Denise, and David, her brother-in-law and sisters-in-law, Ray VanTuinen, Lucille DeVries, Tress DeVries, and Pearl Vander Molen, and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, June 20, at 11 a.m. at the Orchard Hill Reformed Church with Dr. Thurmon Rynbrandt and Rev. Ralph Robrahn officiating. Interment will be in Rosedale Memorial Park. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Orchard Hill Reformed Church Building Fund would be appreciated. Friends and family may meet Eleanor's family at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, on Monday, June 19, from 6-9 p.m. and at Orchard Hill Reformed Church on Tuesday, June 20, from 10 a.m. until the time of the service. Please go to www.lifestorynet.com where you can share a memory, sign the online guest book, or watch her Life Story film.