Lena Meijer, wife of grocery store giant, dies at 102

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Lena Meijer, the wife of the late grocery chain co-founder Frederik Meijer, died Saturday. She was 102.

She is remembered as a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and partner to Frederik Meijer as he built up the grocery store chain.

“We are grateful that she is at peace after a long, full, and impactful life," her grandson U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Grand Rapids, wrote in a tweet. He called her "the warmest grandmother a grandson could ask for" and said that his family "will forever cherish the memories and legacy she created with Grandpa Fred."

The daughter of German immigrants, Lena Meijer was born in 1919 and raised on her family's farm near Lakeview, Michigan, according to Remembering Lena Meijer, a website honoring her memory.

Frederik and Lena Meijer's at their Meijer Botanical Gardens, which combines Lena's love of gardens and Fred's love of sculpture, will open a 12 million dollar expansion that more than doubles its space. Outside their home, Fred and Lena have fun with the sheep sculpture on August 22, 2000.
Frederik and Lena Meijer's at their Meijer Botanical Gardens, which combines Lena's love of gardens and Fred's love of sculpture, will open a 12 million dollar expansion that more than doubles its space. Outside their home, Fred and Lena have fun with the sheep sculpture on August 22, 2000.

When she moved to Greenville, Michigan, in 1940, she was hired as a cashier at the original Meijer supermarket where she met Frederik Meijer. The two married and moved to Grand Rapids where she supported the growth of her husband's grocery business and became deeply involved as a volunteer with the local parent-teacher association.

The Meijers had three sons, Doug, Hank and Mark. Lena Meijer cooked dinner for the family most evenings, traveled internationally with Fred in their later years and saw her family grow to seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, according the Remembering Lena Meijer site.

The Meijers are also remembered for their philanthropic endeavors.

The Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center at Spectrum Health "is one of their many everlasting impacts — generosity that is saving lives each and every day," tweeted Leon Hendrix, the communications lead for the hospital system.

The two donated land for the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, a cultural destination known for its stunning botanical gardens and art.

Lena Meijer had a fondness for gardens and maintained a rose garden at the family's home in Grand Rapids. For years, she decorated the German Christmas tree at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Frederik Meijer also funded trails in the area and the two donated art to the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

Lena Meijer is survived by her three sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A private ceremony for the family is planned. Instead of flowers, memorial contributions in her name have been requested for the Lena Meijer Children's Garden at the Frederik Meijer Gardens.

Clara Hendrickson fact-checks Michigan issues and politics as a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Make a tax-deductible contribution to support her work at bit.ly/freepRFA. Contact her at chendrickson@freepress.com or 313-296-5743. Follow her on Twitter @clarajanehen.

Become a subscriber.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Lena Meijer, wife of grocery store giant, dies at 102

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting