Fred Meijer, 91
GRAND RAPIDS – In 1946, he married Lena Rader, a cashier in that original store. He is survived by his beloved Lena, their three sons, Hank (Liesel) Meijer, Doug (Starr) Meijer and Mark (Mary Beth) Meijer, and seven grandchildren whose company he always enjoyed. Born December 7, 1919, Fred worked in the store from the start, helping his father build the tiny grocery into a chain of supermarkets. In 1962, under Fred’s leadership, the chain opened its first “Thrifty Acres” store in Grand Rapids, a huge one-stop shopping discount emporium. As the company grew he was always an advocate of promoting people from within, an outspoken champion of civil rights, and a zealot for low prices. Fred – and he was, to his employees, simply “Fred” – was known for his competitive spirit and a keen sense of his own humble origins. In industry affairs, he was one of the longest serving directors of the Food Marketing Institute (formerly the Super Market Institute), and winner of its Sidney Raab award for outstanding service. In his adopted hometown of Grand Rapids he played a vital role in the early years of the local Urban League and Goodwill Industries, and helped lead downtown urban renewal efforts. In 1984 he worked with a group of civic leaders and friends of President Ford to build the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum on the west bank of the Grand River. In those years he also served on the Cleveland District Board of the Federal Reserve. More recently, he was an active member of the Improvement Association. While the Meijer name became synonymous with many civic and charitable undertakings, Fred’s most significant contribution lay with the creation in 1994 of the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. The conservatory and park reflect a blend of his passion for sculpture and Lena’s for gardening. The collection of contemporary sculpture now ranks among the finest in the world, in a complex which has become one of the region’s leading attractions. Even at 91 he continued to attend meetings in the Meijer offices and motivate new generations of team members with his passion for customer service, fair play and low prices. He served as chairman emeritus of the company until his death. He will be lovingly missed by his bride of 65 years, his family, and all of those graced by his easygoing smile including kids of all ages who were recipients of his famous Purple Cow ice cream cards. A private memorial service will be held Wednesday, November 30. Public visitation will be held Tuesday from 2 to 10 PM at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, 1000 E. Beltline NE. Memorial contributions may be made to Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in memory of Fred. The family is being served by Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Service, 4291 Cascade Rd SE at Kenmoor, E of I-96.