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401 Hall St. SW, Suite 263
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Life Story / Obituary
Loving, generous, and kind, Eloise Mae Covell, lived a life rich in family and friends. A person who welcomed everyone as a friend and met each day as a gift, Eloise proved an inspiration to all who were blessed to know her. She was hardworking, compassionate, thoughtful, and heart-centered. Her pleasant personality was attractive, and her gentle spirit a safe harbor for many. Eloise's selflessness was apparent in her dedication to assuring others were well cared for, and her empathy often provided comfort and companionship for those she loved. She was a great conversationalist who was genuinely interested in those she spent time with. She listened with great understanding and validated others with ease and faith. Eloise loved life and treasured nothing more than sharing time in the good company of her family and friends. A treasured daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, Eloise was a gift in so many ways.
The early 1920s were marked by tremendous confidence, prosperity, and previously unknown comforts. The economy boomed, wages rose for most Americans, and prices fell, resulting in a higher standard of living for most. With the inventions of the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, self-winding watch, bulldozer, instant camera, drive-in restaurants, Band-Aids, and the convertible the post-war, era marked significant advancement, and morale flourished throughout the land. While the US census proved for the first time in history that more Americans lived in urban areas than rural ones, the wave of sweeping social and economic growth grew exponentially with the ratification of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote. More than a million women worked in white-collar jobs while the automobile industry nearly doubled. Nowhere was there more excitement than in the home of Andrew and Helga Peterson as they welcomed their daughter Eloise into their hearts and home on July 3, 1924.
Growing up in Trufant, Michigan, during the Great Depression, Eloise's early days formed a firm foundation upon which she built the rest of her life. Prior to the market crash in 1929, her father, who was college-educated, ran the bank in Trufant. Forced to find work in Detroit when the bank closed, Helga was left to care for four children. With signature resolve, Helga made the best of an awful time. She rented out the third front bedroom of their modest house to teachers who worked in the nearby school, and over the years, also worked as a store clerk, bookkeeper, and hospital worker. The oldest child, Eloise enjoyed the good company of her younger children, Mary Ann, Netti Jane, and Winston, forming close relationships that lasted through their entire lives.
Eloise attended school in Trufant, where she played clarinet in high school. When she was older, she moved to Grand Rapids, where she attended Comptometer School and learned to use a ten-key adding machine. Eloise attended St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Trufant and once a year, in the summer, would attend Bass Lake Church camp. Though growing up during the Depression did not allow for many hobbies, Eloise did like to spend time with a local family, Dr. Leo Bunce, at their cottage on Rainbow Lake. She also worked on a local farm, took care of children, and learned to make pies for a bakery. She also spent a lot of time at The Danish Brotherhood Society Hall, located in Trufant, where she would go for ANY social event.
While working at Peck's Drug Store in downtown Grand Rapids during WWII, Eloise met one of the company's accountants, Elvina. Elvina took a liking to Eloise and soon introduced her to her son, Harvey, who had worked as a window painter at the store before enlisting in the Army Air Corps while still in high school. Eloise and Harvey dated for a time and married on March 7, 1945, when he was home on furlough. The wedding was held in Grand Rapids with her sister Mary as maid of honor and Harvey's brother Glen as best man.
After honeymooning at Rowe Hotel in Grand Rapids, Harvey was called into active duty, and Eloise moved with her new husband to the Air Force base in Nebraska. After safely returning home from serving in the war, the couple, who had welcomed their son, Dick, into their family, lived in an apartment on Lafayette St. Harvey found work with the Grand Rapids Fire Department, and two years later, their family welcomed son Roger. As their family grew, so did their need for a larger home, and they moved into a new two-bedroom house on Eleanor St., where their daughters Carla Ann and Deanna Jean joined the family. As a family of six, the once spacious house became very crowded, and The Covell family moved to the westside of Grand Rapids. Eloise was sad to move away from the friends they had made in their NE neighborhood and wasn't sure they were making a great move, as the house on 919 Valley they bought was older and on a busier street.
With four children to care for and a husband who worked 24 hours on a shift at the engine house, Eloise worked hard to manage the household and help make ends meet. To help bolster the family's budget and pay for a car, clothes, and food, she took in laundry, provided childcare for a young boy, and worked for Kent Country Club as a waitress when she could. During this time, she had an unusual position with the Blodgett family, serving the occasional evening meal or special event, receiving a generous $5 for her work. In time, Eloise eventually found full-time work, and her final employer, Wolverine Brass Works, gave her a new name, Elli. Eloise was a very busy lady who would rush home on her lunch hour, eat lunch with the kids, then drive them partway to Stocking School for their afternoon session. The family enjoyed trips to Wellstone and fishing in Manistee. A supportive and trusting mother, Eloise eagerly supported her children in any and every way.
Once a month, Eloise enjoyed playing bridge with her friends. Prior to HER month for hosting the bridge group, there would be a frenzy of activity, painting, cleaning, and maybe even purchasing a new piece of furniture for this BIG NIGHT. Eloise did not have loads of time to spend visiting these girlfriends, but as the kids became teenagers, she and Harvey became more active in the Casino Club. She played golf, was on the women's bowling team and was active with the auxiliary. Though Eloise cooked all the family's meals, she never felt she was an accomplished cook; she always said her sister Nettie was the cook in the family.
In 1970, Eloise finally had what she always wanted: a new home. The ranch-style house with an attached garage on 8th Ave was home for a short time to Carla and Deanna, as the boys had moved out and into their own places to live. She loved having so much space, new furniture, and tending to the yard. She relished having the space to garden just outside the sliding dining room doors. Dick helped her build a patio and flower mound, and she and Harvey later added a family room, where the family traditionally gathered for holidays. Over the fireplace mantel she lovingly hung the grandkids' Christmas stockings; Cameron, Clayton, Andrea, Debbie, Wes, Steven, and Darren, Eloise always made sure everyone was included equally.
As their 25th wedding anniversary approached, and son Roger was safely home from Vietnam, Eloise and Harvey had a grand dinner party with all their family and took a trip that year to Las Vegas. As Harvey and Eloise realized that they could afford a second home, they invested in a trailer and property in Wellston. The trailer became the place for weekend getaways, where Harvey relaxed and fished, and Eloise entertained the teenage family and friends.
After serving with the Grand Rapids Fire Department for 32 years, Harvey retired, and Eloise retired a few years later. During this time in their lives, they enjoyed traveling more. Eloise's Aunt, Helena, and her husband, Dee, who lived in Hollywood, Florida, invited them to visit each winter and stay as long as they wished. Ever the accountant, Eloise liked making these road trips south and kept extensive detailed records in a spiral notebook of their mileage, lodgings, and what they paid for on these trips. Later, as family members passed on, the couple spent winters in the Sarasota/ Bradenton area, where they made good friends from Canada while enjoying the golf, dog races, and sunshine.
In time, as Harvey's health deteriorated, the trips south came to an end. With the sadness of his passing in 2001, Eloise had the task of saying goodbye to the 8th avenue home she enjoyed for 30 years. She had no regrets about giving up the huge yard and house; her new apartment became HER place to live. She learned to live alone, make new friends, play bridge twice a week, and care for her family from the security of the Marsh Ridge community. She also cultivated a small flower garden, led the exercise classes, volunteered to deliver the newsletter, and enjoyed social gatherings at the community center. She loved to do the hand sewing on quilts prepped for her by Carla, completing more than 50 quilts in three years. All of them were generously donated to Hospice of West Michigan.
In September of 2004, her son Roger Covell was diagnosed with cancer and was taken from us in 8 short weeks. Eloise must have taken many deep breaths during this very difficult time and helped Cindy, Cameron and Clayton with Roger's passing.
A woman who never held tight to things, Eloise held tight to people. With great wisdom and care, she recognized that the real treasure in life comes from our relationships with those we love. She carefully kept photographs and every birthday and anniversary card ever sent to her, cherishing each person and every memory as she reminisced through the enormous collections. She enjoyed her close relationships with her siblings and a tight-knit family held together by their revered matriarch, Grandma Helga. Despite not having much money growing up in rural Michigan, the family never thought they were poor, for they knew the richness of the love they shared and the importance of living whole-hearted lives.
Without a doubt, the world feels less certain in the absence of Eloise's steadfast love and care. As we reminisce her rich and wonderful life, may we find comfort in carrying her beautiful legacy forward. With each stranger we greet as a friend, garden we tend, family meal we share, classic 40s song we listen to, and unwavering support we provide others, we celebrate the many ways Eloise gifted our lives. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired each of us.
Eloise Mae Covell age 97, of Grand Rapids, passed away on September 30, 2021. She was preceded in death by her husband, Harvey; son, Roger Covell; grandson, Clayton Covell; and brother, Winston Peterson. Eloise is survived by her children, Richard L. Covell and Marcia Roberts, Carla (Blake) Forslund and Deanna J. Covell; daughter-in-law, Cynthia Covell; grandchildren, Cameron Covell, Andrea (Nick) Muccino, Steven (Kirsten Ebey) Mercer, Darren Covell, and Erika Driesenga, Debbie (Brian) Boonstra, Wesley Mercer and Lisa Covell; and many great-grandchildren. Also surviving are her sisters, Mary Ann Main and Nettie Jane Eskin; and many nieces and nephews. The Funeral Service will take place at 1 PM on Monday, October 4, 2021, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Visitation will be from noon until the start of the funeral. Contributions in her memory may be made to Clark Home or Emmanuel Hospice. Interment in Rosedale Memorial Park. Please visit www.heritagelifestory.com to read Eloise's life story, submit a favorite memory, photo or sign the guestbook online.