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Life Story / Obituary
A true “woman for all seasons”, Louise Griswold was a generous woman of many talents. She had an artistic flair for everything she did – from singing for others’ enjoyment, to designing beautiful floral arrangements for her grandchildren’s weddings. Louise filled a room with her presence and left a lasting impression on everyone she met. Friends and family cherished her friendship.
The 1920s were a period of transition in American history. Women had gained the right to vote and were shortening the length of their skirts. A different form of entertainment was now possible through the magic of radio and average citizens were enjoying newfound fortunes through investments in the stock market. Amidst these new reforms and innovative ideas, Edward R. and Gladys (Rawdon) Jett, living in Muskegon, Michigan, were anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child. On December 20, 1926, an early Christmas present arrived, a beautiful baby girl they named Louise.
Over the next few years, Louise became big sister to her brothers James and Gerald and little sister Shirley. Edward supported his growing family as custodian for the Muskegon Chronicle, a position he held for many years, while Gladys had her hands full caring for the home and their four children.
The family lived on Grand Haven Road, and maintained a large vegetable garden, mainly for their own use, but they also sold and gave away many of the vegetables and other produce. It was here that Louise learned the value of hard work, for all the children had chores to do to help out.
The Jett family was very musically inclined and Louise had been blessed with a beautiful singing voice, and no matter what she was doing, she usually did it with a song. Louise was a member of a trio that entertained at various places and functions in Muskegon, and she even had the opportunity to sing on the radio.
After graduating from Muskegon Heights High School in the mid 1940’s, Louise went to work for the Hardy Herpolsheimers Department Store. While working, she made friends with a gal named Barb Cochrane. This was the time of World War II and Barb gave her the name of a young sailor serving in the Philippines – Melvin Griswold. Louise began writing to Melvin and through their letters - and across continents and oceans - a romance blossomed. Soon after Melvin returned home, the sweethearts began making wedding plans. However, in preparation for the wedding, Louise had put a wedding dress on layaway at Hardys. But before the big day, a huge fire engulfed much of downtown Muskegon, including the Hardy Herpolsheimer store – and Louise’s wedding dress. Louise was not deterred by this turn of events. She chose another dress and the ceremony went off as planned, on May 25, 1946.
In the beginning, the newlyweds lived with Melvin’s mother but soon began building a home of their own. When it was finished, they spent all 60 years of marriage in this home. Besides building a home, Louise and Melvin began building a family. They were delighted when son Dennis was born, followed by their daughter, Cynthia.
To support their growing family, Louise and Melvin, along with friend Malcolm Kurtz and his wife, co-owned and operated the Malfra Music Store in Wolf Lake, where they were also members of the Wolf Lake United Methodist Church. When not being mother or housekeeper, Louise helped out by working part-time as bookkeeper and sales person. With a wonderful family, and a good job, both Louise and Melvin knew they were living the American dream, and they loved every minute of it.
When they finally retired, they began spending more time at their cabin in Newaygo, where Louise kept beautiful flower and vegetable gardens. She really enjoyed the outdoors and the nearby creek. When grandchildren and then great-grandchildren came along, they were always welcome at the cabin. In fact, Louise was ecstatic when she became a great-grandmother and loved the opportunities to show off all of her grandchildren.
Even though she was no longer caring for her children or working in the store, Louise still found many things to keep her busy. Her artistic talents showed in everything she did. The floral arrangements for her grandchildren’s weddings were handcrafted by Louise. She also enjoyed quilting and painting. She was an excellent cook and her meals were always something to look forward to, thanks to the special twists and flair she added to the recipes. Making cookies for her grandchildren was a favorite pastime.
Louise was a lady in every sense of the word, and never left the house without first “putting on her face.” She loved antiquing, but always kept up with the latest trends in fashion. For the last two years, she had added her own special blend of class to the Village at the Oaks where she made her home. Just a few days before her hospitalization, Louise was still singing – to the enjoyment of all those around her.
In Louise Griswold’s case, it was true that age is only a number. Until the end of her life, she remained the vivacious and enthusiastic woman that had earned her the love of all the people in her life, and, with her passing, the fond memories of all who knew her.
Mrs. Louise Griswold, age 81, died Friday, August 1, 2008 at the hospice home, surrounded by her family. She is survived by her son, Dennis (Gail) Griswold of Muskegon; 5 grandchildren, Gina (Brent) McKinnon, Amy (Jared) Weathers, Jeffrey (Gina) Griswold, Nathan (Mandi) Barber, Brigitte (Ken) Dodge; 10 great grandchildren; brother, James (Ina) Jett of Silver Lake; sister, Shirley Shlaffer of Norton Shores; son-in-law, Carl Barber. She was preceded in death by her husband, Melvin in 2006; daughter, Cynthia Barber in 2006; and by her brother, Gerald Jett. Visitation will be Monday, August 4, 2008, 6-8 p.m. at Clock Life Story Funeral Home, 1469 Peck St. Muskegon. The memorial service will be
Tuesday, 11: A.M., August 5, 2008 at Wolf Lake United Methodist Church, 370 Vista Terrace, Muskegon. Please visit Louise’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com to leave a memory or sign the online guest book.