At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Newaygo Area District Library - FACF Memorial Donation
44 N. State Rd
Newaygo, MI 49337
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Bright, witty, and well read, Elaine Welbon created a heart centered life rich in music, the outdoors, and a deep devotion to her family. With the belief that we should “accept all people as they are or not at all,” and with her beloved optimist Earl at her side, Elaine freely welcomed others with humility and grace. Deeply loved, Elaine will long be remembered in the hearts and lives of those who were blessed to share time with her.
Despite the obvious gloom the Great Depression, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Born in Manton, Michigan, on March 19, 1932, Elaine soon inspired much hope for the Kolenbrander family they welcomed her into their hearts and home.
Born in a time of worldly struggle, Elaine grew up in a generation of people who knew what it meant to work hard, nurture the land, and appreciate fully what the land would give back in return. A natural child of the outdoors, from an early age Elaine preferred the freedom and peace of being outdoors. As a nine-year-old, Elaine’s adopted parents surprised her with a retired circus pony named Bingo. Elaine, who always considered herself homely, found her greatest sense of comfort and confidence in the good company of her pink pony, and her early relationship with Bingo forged the firm foundation upon which Elaine built the rest of her life.
Besides her love of horses, Elaine was a voracious reader, an accomplished musician, and skilled mathematician. A natural, self-taught musician, Elaine learned to play guitar, banjo, autoharp, dobro, and mandolin all by ear. During her schooling at Sibley School and Mount Mercy Academy for Girls in Grand Rapids, Elaine grew her love of mathematics and enjoyed participating in the Glee Club. After graduating from Mt. Mercy in 1950, Elaine first worked as a soda jerk at Mathews Drug Store. For 13 years Elaine worked for the telephone company as an operator; she enjoyed several promotions and especially all the math that was required to do her job. Later in life, Elaine worked part time as a librarian for the Newaygo Area District Library where her love of reading often proved a priceless aid in helping others find just what they were looking for.
While attending the Ionia Free Fair in July of 1953 with a group of mutual friends, Elaine had the good fortune of meeting the love of her life Earl Welbon who had recently returned home from serving in the Army during the Korean Conflict. Earl kept Elaine company through the evening, unhesitatingly going to see all of the animals she so enjoyed. Elaine took to the way Earl naturally reacted to her, and as the evening continued, it became abundantly clear that their hearts were destined for one another. With a desire to build a future together, the happy couple married on March 6, 1954.
After a brief honeymoon to Boyne Mountain, the newlyweds first settled in Grand Rapids. One of Elaine’s most fond memories of Earl was the unforgettable, brilliant smile he gave her when she met him at work to pick up his paycheck. In that smile, Elaine saw the undeniable love Earl held for her in his heart. In 1960, Elaine and Earl were blessed with the opportunity to move to an 80+ acre farm in Grant. The farm quickly grew to be Elaine’s domain, and while Earl made the long trek to Steelcase where he worked, Elaine lovingly tended to the many farm chores. Working the farm was Elaine’s heart’s delight. She relished in caring for her horses and feeder calves, while expertly minding to the needs of the horses that boarded there.
Elaine’s joy in caring for the farm was only exceeded by her delight is becoming a mother. She and Earl were proud and devoted parents. Without a doubt, there was nothing more important to Elaine than her son Rex, and she approached motherhood with honor and a sincere sense of privilege.
Though she and Earl related to their house as merely a place to rest their heads at night, the home was often filled with good food and delightful music. Elaine was known to pluck away at her instruments for a couple of hours a day, and it was a regular occurrence to find the home filled with farm hands who lunched then played music and sang songs together. Besides the family and friends she so cherished, Elaine’s greatest personal treasure was her health which she fortified with good coffee, steak, vegetables, and a pre-supper drink. Despite the tremendous challenges that came with Earl's long illness and death in 2011, Elaine chose to continue to find the positives and to do the hard work of continuing to grasp the good in every single day.
Whether taking a leisurely drive with Earl, sharing time with her son, making music, reading a good book, or tending to the animals, Elaine embraced each day fully and considered all of them her favorite. Her natural delight in the simple things, pride in her family, and satisfaction in a hard day’s toils will long be held as Elaine's inspiring legacy.
WELBON, Elaine aged 85, of Grant, MI, passed away on May 20, 2017. She was preceded in death by her husband, Earl, and sister, Beverly Rose. Elaine is survived by her son, Rex Welbon; sisters, Linda (Bob) Janecke and Marilyn Andrews; several nieces and nephews and many friends. A Memorial Service will be held at 11 AM on Thursday, May 25, 2017, at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. N.W Grand Rapids. Family and friends will gather to share memories from 6-8 PM on Wednesday at the funeral home and on Thursday from 10 AM until the time of the service. Memorial contributions may be made to Newaygo Area District Library – FACF Memorial Donation. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read Elaine’s lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.