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Life Story / Obituary
With her bright smile and a sparkle in her eye, Frances Arver was a delight to know and love. Her family was her greatest source of pride, and in them she found her greatest joy. Although Frances was a fun-loving woman but worried often about others, she knew how to hold her ground when needed and was known to be a little feisty at times. Raised from frugal beginnings, Frances never required much and as long as she had her family to love and her friends to enjoy, she was just as content. Ever loving and dedicated, Frances will be dearly missed as the memories she leaves behind will be forever treasured.
By 1929, the days of the flapper and the infamous Roaring Twenties gave way to hard economic times. Just merely the beginning, the Great Depression was officially launched in a country that had seen much growth and prosperity. Despite these troubling times, John Peter and Josephine (Seigel) Heible of Grand Rapids, Michigan found much to be thankful for when on February 4, 1929, they celebrated the birth of their little girl, Frances Leila Heible. One of nine children, Frances grew up in their family home on Maplerow on the city’s northwest side and attended a one room schoolhouse. As the Great Depression continued to take its toll, many struggled to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, and Frances’ family was no exception. Sadly, her parents lost their home and along with other challenges, it was a bleak time for her family.
Despite the uncertainty and turmoil in the world around her, Frances focused on the special and good times her family enjoyed together. A young girl of her generation, Frances loved being outdoors and shared numerous adventures with neighborhood friends. Devout to their Catholic faith, Frances was raised attending the Catholic Church.
No stranger to hard work, at the age of 14, Frances entered the working world. Although she lied about her age, it enabled her to secure a job as an elevator operator with R.C. Allen, a manufacturer of business machines in Grand Rapids. During World War II, she worked inspecting fuel assemblies. Bud’s Hamburg Joint was the favorite place to hang out for Frances and her friends. It was here that Frances met Dale Arver, a young serviceman who had just returned home from the war after serving in the U.S. Navy. Quite smitten from the start, the two shared a whirlwind romance and went on to elope on October 18, 1947.
As newlyweds, Frances and Dale first lived on College Street in Grand Rapids before moving to Williamson and then Waterford Court. They eventually moved to their longtime home on 7 Mile Road in Belmont. Throughout these years, they were blessed with the births of four children. David and Connie came along, and after a break of several years, Kenneth and Steven joined their hearts and home.
Frances loved nothing more than remaining at home caring for the family she dearly loved. Sense of family was very important to Frances. She made a good home for Dale and the kids, making treasured memories along the way. As a mother she was protective and somewhat conservative. While Frances was even tempered on most things, once she was pushed, she wasn’t afraid to dole out the discipline when needed, either! She kept a tidy and clean house and was sure to have a well prepared and delicious meal for her family by the time Dale returned home from work each day.
Frances and her immediate family enjoyed many weekends at their cottage on Indian Lakes. Cookouts, watching the kids swim, fish and made some wonderful memories. She never cleaned fish but would cook all the fish her boys caught. Even though Frances was never one for swimming as she never learned, she did enjoy time spent around their pool at their home in Belmont. Frances spent a lot of time with her sisters. There were the Friday night card games with her sister Kay (Tack) and husband Frank. She shared a close bond with her sisters which remained for years to come. Jean, one of her sisters, sent the same birthday card back and forth for years and shared many Whoppers from Burger King.
Frances loved playing Bingo. In later years, she raised funds for Aids and Alzheimer’s research by organizing Bingo events. Naturally good with numbers, she kept the books for the Bingo hall in Walker on Remembrance Road for a number of years. She also did all the bookwork for her husband’s self-employed construction business. Although she could be quite frugal, she always had the newest gadgets from the first microwave to hit the market, to the many QVC items. Frances was a “techie”. Always the first to have the newest in technology, she wasn’t afraid to use it or intimidated by it. From learning all the numerous operating system to having VCR’s and computers. Frances knew her way around Facebook and was the first to request Wifi in the assisted living center where she lived in her later years. Just as frugal as she was spunky in nature, these characteristics showed through regularly as Frances was certain to challenge her yearly tax assessments.
With at least two canine companions always by her side, Frances loved her dogs. Some of her favorites over the years included Charmin, Smokey, and more recently, Reba. Crafts were another thing Frances thoroughly enjoyed. Once grandchildren came along, she enjoyed seeing them at every opportunity. She loved doing her crafts with them and she looked forward to the day when they were old enough to join her at bingo. Whenever they left her house, they were sure to have treats of cookies or gum from Frances. Although she and Dale never did much traveling, they did take a few trips to Las Vegas which Frances just loved. When it came to TV, Frances liked watching TV, especially conspiracy shows and a couple of the judge and court proceeding shows.
After a year-long battle with Leukemia, Frances’ beloved Dale sadly died in 1995. In the days and months that followed, the love of Frances’ family and good friends saw her through. Yet as a very independent woman, Frances was able to remain in her home with the help of her children. For many years, her son, Kenny provided Frances with a tremendous amount of help. Even so, Frances didn’t let things bother her. Several years ago, it became apparent that Frances was showing signs of dementia. Her dementia became a blessing with Kenny’s untimely death, in her mind and life he still was alive. Despite her stubbornness, she moved into an assisted living facility and she entered the care of hospice a few months ago.
No matter the subject, once Frances had her mind made up about something, she never backed down. It was in her nature to be a little feisty and stubborn, and it was all the more reason to love this special woman. With her great sense of humor, Frances loved laughter and a good joke. Sometimes she’d laugh so hard others naturally had to join in. While she was mostly a homebody, that didn’t mean Frances didn’t enjoy conversation. She was funny, easily loved, and the gleam in her eye and big smile whenever she was in the presence of those she loved simply said it all.
Frances Leila Arver, age 89 of Belmont, passed away November 2, 2018. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dale; her son, Kenneth; brothers: Edward, Daniel, Clayton and Thomas Heible; sisters: Katherine “Kay” Houlihan, Ruth Koster, Elaine Heible. Fran is survived by her children: David and Sherry Arver, Connie and Tom Frakie, Steven and Kim Arver; grandchildren: Audra Arver, Heather Robertson, David Robertson, Keleigh Arver; great-grandchildren: Emily and Noah VanOveren, Kyle Robertson, Rosaleigh Arver as well as step-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. Fran’s family will receive visitors at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE on Monday, November 5, 2018 beginning at 11 AM, with a service to remember and celebrate her life beginning at 12 Noon. Interment will follow at Rosedale Memorial Park. To read more about Fran’s life, to share a memory or to sign her online guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.