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Edward J. "Bud" Meier

January 6, 1924 - June 15, 2016
Muskegon, MI

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Visitations


Friday, August 19, 2016
9:00 AM to 10:00 AM EDT
St. Michael's Catholic Church
1716 Sixth Street
Muskegon, MI 49440

Services


Friday, August 19, 2016
10:00 AM EDT
St. Michael's Catholic Church
1716 Sixth Street
Muskegon, MI 49440

Life Story / Obituary


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Edward J. Meier was born during a blizzard January 6, 1924, to Edward E. and Helen T. (Schelhas) Meier. He joined siblings David, Helen, Irene and Rita; and was followed by Robert, and Dorothy Anne on the family tree. He was “Buddy” to the family, and “Bud” to friends for the rest of his life.

The family lived in downtown Muskegon, at 370 W. Muskegon Avenue. In recent years Dad would recall where all the neighbors lived, and the names of the kids he had played with. A favorite play site was Hackley School, half a block away. He recalls ascending the clock tower with his friends, who would help the custodian wind the clock mechanism. “You couldn’t do that today,” he’d say. Dad and his siblings attended St. Joseph School through 12th grade. The parish was one block from the house. As an adult, he served as an usher, treasurer of the Home and School Association, member of the Holy Name Society (a men’s group), the cribbage club, Serra Club and was on the credit committee of the St. Joe’s Credit Union.

Bud was an industrious young man, having taken on a Muskegon Chronicle newspaper route in the downtown area at age 10. Papers were 3 cents apiece, and sometimes a generous soul would give him a nickel and tell him to keep the change. He also ran errands for Mrs. Benedict, a neighbor. She tipped a penny.

He joined the family business, Meier Cleaners, as a driver, delivering orders in the community. When he told the U.S. Army he had been a truck driver in civilian life, they assigned him a 2½-ton truck that required double clutching. The move from a dry cleaning delivery van to the Army vehicle required a sharp learning curve, which, of necessity, Dad quickly mastered.

Dad served from 1943 to 1946 in the 259th Infantry, 65th Division in the European theater of World War II. He had wanted to become a member of the Army Air Corps, but that branch had too many applicants. He was honorably discharged with the rank of TEC 5.

Around the 50th anniversary of the end of the war, he started to share a few stories with the family, most relating to the “cushy” assignment he had as an infantryman assigned to driving truck. He did recall an inadvertent 65-mile hike that transpired when the company missed a turnaround point somewhere along the line. Later stories hinted at the dangers he had faced. He mentioned hearing a bullet whiz past his truck’s cab, and driving behind a barn as a German pilot strafed the area. Yet as was typical in the telling, he quipped, “They were using real bullets!”

Upon safe return to U.S. soil, Dad was put to work immediately at the cleaners. Dad and his brother, Bob, along with brother-in-law Joe Bolduc, soon were sharing responsibilities. Most of Dad’s siblings, children, nieces and nephews at one time or another worked at the cleaners. When it was time for Dad to take over the reins at the Broadway and Henry plant, he was ready to be the boss.

He was a good boss, as his many long-time employees would attest. Several of them attended his 90th birthday party in 2014. Dad worked from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. five to six days a week, and often returned in the evenings to install or repair equipment. He retired as president of Bud Meier Cleaners in 1987.

Following the war, Dad’s sister Irene introduced him to Lucille Damskey at a dance. The pretty young St. Mary’s girl had moved to Muskegon from North Dakota as a high school senior, and was by then working as a secretary. They married June 19, 1948, and produced seven children over the next 15 years.

Dad and Mom were both involved in many community or business-related organizations. Over the years Dad was President of the Michigan Institute of Launderers and Drycleaners. He was a member of the Muskegon Elks Lodge, American Business Club, Old Newsboys, Knights of Columbus, CAM dance club, Muskegon Country Club, the Fin and Feather Camp and more. He was chosen for Muskegon Jaycees’ Distinguished Service Award in 1959. Dad and Mom also played golf and tennis, and cross-country skied, mostly after their kids had graduated and they had more time to themselves. To each activity Dad gave considerable amounts of time, but he also had time for his kids.

Mom would take us to Elks Park to swim on late summer afternoons. We were still in the water when Dad arrived after 6, so he let us climb on his shoulders to dive into the waves. He took the girls and granddaughters to father-daughter dances, and the boys to father-son picnics at the Elks. When we were little, he would make up stories about the Teenie Weenies, or sing songs to us, inserting our names in the stories and songs. It wasn’t until we could read the Sunday funnies that we realized the Teenie Weenies were in a comic strip, from which Dad had borrowed main characters.

We spent Fourth of July's at the Elks Park, and Sunday afternoons playing with cousins at our Grandma and Grandpa Meier’s later home, overlooking the Muskegon Channel. Decades later, Dad’s own grandchildren remember weekends at the Fin and Feather, taking walks in the woods, swimming, fishing and shooting skeet with "their" Grandpa and Grandma Meier.

Dad and Mom celebrated 58 years of marriage before she died in 2006. When Mom’s dementia changed the order of their lives, Dad exhibited prowess in the kitchen, using CrockPot recipes provided by women from their YFCA swim class. But after Mom died, it became difficult for Dad to function on his own.

The past six years, our youngest sibling, Suzanne, and her husband, Leo, lived with and cared for Dad. Dad had a tough time giving up being “the boss” when we determined he should no longer be driving, and when we imposed other restrictions (“No, you can’t feed the cats ‘people food.’”). But he mellowed out and was very thankful for his children and caregivers in recent years.

We thank the Eucharistic ministers from St. Francis Parish, the VNS and the Great Lakes Caring Hospice and Alliance caregivers who came into Dad’s life this past year, especially Karen Tullos. We especially thank Suzanne and Leo for soldiering through days when Dad’s memory failed but his temper didn’t, for seeing to his daily needs, and for shepherding our Old Soldier toward Taps as he tired of Reveille in his waning years.

Bud died June 15, 2016, taking leave during a spectacular thunderstorm, completing the cycle begun 92 years earlier with that blizzard.

Bud is survived by his children: Michael (Marisa) Meier, Barbara (Douglas) Aardema, Christopher Meier, Jeffrey (J. Hillery) Meier, Brian (Janie) Meier, Eric (Susan) Meier and Suzanne (Leo) Szost; one sister, Dorothy Anne (Bill) Rumer; brother-in-law Leo Damskey; sister-in-law Frances Damskey.

There are 17 grandchildren: Gaelen and Brendan Meier, Katherine "Thrin" (Tom) Watt; Megan (Seth) Ahrenholz and Nathan (Johanna) Aardema; Lacie (Nick) Keller and Nick (Jessica) Meier; Stevie and Alexis Meier, Brittany (Nick) Estes; Jennifer (Bernie) Brown and Stephen (fiancée Ivanie) Meier; Stefanie (Marc) Hiatt and Michelle Meier; and Josh (Melissa), Jeremy and Ryan Szost.

He also leaves 17 great-grandchildren: Lucien and Hatcher; Greta, Louie, Adeline, and Alice; Atticus, Penelope, Gordon, Hadley and Kaiden; Caleb, Andrew and Audrey; Jayden, Evan and Zachary; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Funeral services are Friday, August 19, 2016, at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Muskegon. Memorial donations may be made to the Edward J. and Lucille M. Meier Fund of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County. The family will direct the Fund’s donations to the Veteran’s Home in Grand Rapids and to Hospice.

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