Nov 8th 1961 - Apr 17th 2012
Arleen Marie Rissner was a beloved daughter, sister, mother and grandmother. She was eager and strong, equally at home when she was seeing the world or shifting back into farm life. With a combination of stubbornness and care, she came through tough times and did right by the family she loved. Arleen was the kind of person who would give her last penny for the good of others.
Arleen Marie was born in Plainwell, Michigan on November 8, 1961. It was the beginning of the turbulent 1960s, marked by protests over the Vietnam War and civil rights marches for equal treatment under the law for all Americans. Yet her parents, Clayton and Janet (Kruzel) Simpson, were focused on their family and the dairy farm they were running. Arleen was the middle child of five daughters and, growing up, all the girls pitched in to help on the farm.
Arleen attended Martin High School and excelled in her studies. She was in the Top 10 of her class and was listed on the National Honor Society roll. She also played in the Jazz Band, and one of her proudest moments of her high school experience was when she was chosen to play a drum solo. Little wonder that she liked the music of REO Speedwagon, Meatloaf and Lynryd Skynyrd, to name a few. In addition, she was active in 4H, showing sheep from her grandmother’s farm. Multi-talented Arleen also painted and worked with ceramics.
Arleen graduated from Martin High School in 1980, and just that soon, her sister and brother-in-law had an idea that she should meet a certain young man. John Rissner worked with her sister at Stuckey's. Arleen’s sister set them up on a first date, but unfortunately John stood her up. Obviously, that wasn’t the end of the story. The two eventually had that first date and many more leading up to their marriage in January of 1982.
The newlyweds started their life in Michigan but later moved to Indiana to be near John’s family. They shared their lives with two daughters born to them—Crystal and Carla. Very sadly, John died in 1992 when the girls were just 9 and 3 years old. Alone as a single parent, Arleen did what she needed to do to raise her daughters. She worked for Pent Products (Group Dekko) as a computer analyst. The three of them may not have had much, but they had each other and Arleen always provided for them. As a result, the girls grew up knowing just how much family means and believing they could do anything they set their mind to.
Her job at Pent allowed Arleen to travel extensively in the United States and to visit Ireland and Mexico. For a period of time, she also worked as a Massage Therapist and really enjoyed making people feel better. For her own self, Arleen never left home without make-up and looking proper.
Staying active seemed to be in Arleen’s DNA. She was a member of Noble County Jaycees and participated in Relay for Life every year, sometimes twice a year. She loved to camp with her entire family and was known to be a good cook; especially memorable was her salsa and potatoes. She collected antique tractors and anything with a heart and birds. Her John Deere tractor was a favorite, and she often rode it in the Hopkins and Martin parades. Truth be told, Arleen was always a country girl at heart.
Over the years, the Simpson girls remained very close and always enjoyed spending time together. They and the extended family will miss their lovely Arleen who made their lives sweet and full of joy.
Arleen M. Rissner of Hopkins passed away on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at the age of 50. She is survived by her two daughters: Crystal (Richard II) Kenyon, of Plainwell; Carla (Partner: Angela Munn) Rissner, of Plainwell; two grandchildren: Kaylynn and Zoe. She is also survived by her sisters: Becky (Rob) Roderick, of Martin; Colleen Reidel, of Hopkins; Betsy (Tom) Lutes, of Otsego; Barb Simpson, of Allegan; special companion Chuck Clouse and his children: Jonathon and Christopher; and numerous extended family. She is preceded in death by her husband, John; grandson, Darreion Kenyon; and her parents: Clayton and Janet Simpson.
The family will receive friends on Saturday from 4-7 at the Life Story Funeral Home, 120 S. Woodhams, Plainwell (269-685-5881). The funeral will be held on Sunday at 2 PM at the same location. Burial will be at the Miner Cemetery in Watson.
Please visit Arleen’s webpage at www.lifestory.net where you can sign her guestbook. Those who wish may make contributions to the American Cancer Society.