GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Tributes are continuing for the late Lena Meijer. The devoted wife and mother who was there every step of the way as her husband turned a small grocery store into a retail staple in the Midwest died on Saturday. She was 102 years old.
From the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre to a children’s garden bearing her name, she was a familiar name throughout West Michigan, and perhaps an even friendlier name to those who got the chance to know her and witness that generosity firsthand at Spectrum Health, including Chief of Cardiology David Wohns, M.D.
“Lena was a person that always uplifted others, always incredibly generous and always interested in what you had to say and the people that were around her,” Wohns said.
Spectrum Health was a place near and dear to the hearts of Frederik and Lena Meijer. So much so that they became a key financial pulse in breaking ground and building the organization’s heart center, which now bears their name.
But to Wohns, who knew the Meijer couple for more than two decades, Lena Meijer gave more than money — she also gave her undivided attention, even on her very special day.
“The first words out of her mouth to me were, ‘How are your boys?’ We’re there to celebrate her 100th (birthday), and she’s asking about me, which was just her way, always,” Wohns said.
Spectrum Health President and CEO Tina Freese Decker added it won’t be the same without Lena Meijer around, but her legacy of love still beats on.
“It’s sad that we are losing her in our community, but recognizing that she is with Fred now,” Freese Decker said. “Every time I walk into that heart center, I think of both her and Fred and what their generosity and their philanthropy and their commitment did to start the development of the medical mile and how they have brought exceptional, world-class cardiovascular care to the people of West Michigan.”
Lena Meijer is survived by her three children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.