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.
Beacon Hill Foundation
1919 Boston SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Please make check's payable to Beacon Hill Foundation and indicate "Benevolent Care Fund" on memo line.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
In many ways, Eleanor Gillett defined the meaning of devoted wife, dedicated mother, grandmother, and loyal friend. A faithful follower of her Lord and Savior, Eleanor was truly a blessing. Her generous spirit, giving nature and warmhearted ways was an inspiration and gift to those who had the privilege of knowing her. Through her selfless and giving ways, Eleanor radiated goodness to all she encountered throughout her life’s journey. With a grace all her own, Eleanor had a special way of uplifting and encouraging those around her. For these things and so much more, she will be deeply missed and fondly remembered with joy.
A decade of industrial expansion, the Roaring Twenties was an era of prosperity and good fortune in the U.S. With America’s thirst for entertainment, actor Charlie Chaplin was at the height of fame while the sounds of jazz were all the rage even as prohibition was law of the land. Yet for Richard G. and Anna (Saelburg) Peterson, both Swedish immigrants, the life they created living in the rural area of Tallmadge Township, Michigan offered hope and promise. Thankful for their home and family, they were especially blessed on July 8, 1922, when they welcomed the birth of their little girl, Eleanor Ruth into their arms.
The youngest of the five Peterson children, Eleanor joined her older siblings, David, Vernor, and twins, Edward and Ethel. A family of faith, they were proud of their Swedish heritage and were faithful members of the Swedish Evangelical Covenant Church where young Eleanor grew in her walk with the Lord. Although quite a distance, together they always walked to church and were referred to by some as “the walking Petersons.”
The years of the Great Depression created financial havoc for all, and Eleanor’s family was no exception. Times were hard, but her family was thankful for much. They were a happy, close-knit family who counted their blessings and supported one another in all ways. Eleanor attended Sigsby Elementary School as well as high school for a time. She landed her first job working at the Grand Rapids Label Company in the factory, and one day while at work Eleanor was nearly electrocuted.
With World War II well underway, much was being done on the home front for the war effort. It was during this time in Eleanor’s life when she met her one true love, Floyd Gillett on a blind date. The two began dating, and when Floyd left for his Army base in Missouri, Eleanor was devastated. Joining her beloved Floyd in Missouri, the couple eloped. After returning home, her boss allowed Eleanor a flexible work schedule which enabled her travel time down to see Floyd several times before he shipped out.
Eleanor gave birth to their first son, David, while Floyd was overseas. She lived with her parents who offered her love and support, and she was sure to keep Floyd up-to-date with each of their son’s “firsts” by way of letters. Once Floyd returned home to Eleanor’s awaiting and thankful arms they were able to begin their new lives together as husband and wife, and the addition of their son. They settled into a home on Logan Street where Eleanor remained at home caring for her family. She picked up a few babysitting jobs from time to time, but she was content and happy simply making a good home for Floyd and their son. Eventually, they welcomed the birth of another son, Bob who completed their family.
Eleanor and her family became members of the Berean Church where they were actively involved for many years. Much of her social life revolved around church activities and friend. A very caring and gracious woman, Eleanor was someone with whom others could depend. Through the years she and Floyd lovingly sacrificed much for their family, but they would not have wanted it any other way. Eleanor loved her family deeply and counted them as her greatest blessing. Always caring and gracious, she set the bar for her close-knit family.
Down to earth and with her ever-present upbeat and encouraging personality, Eleanor loved connecting with people on every level and she easily made friends wherever she went. Through her deep, abiding faith, she spoke freely to others about her faithful Lord. Eleanor believed what she said and said what she believed. In so doing, she touched many people throughout her life, even to the end of her days.
Once her sons were grown, Eleanor went back to work. She worked alongside Floyd at what would eventually become Heckman Furniture. One of Eleanor’s most prized works included the Oval Office desk they worked on side-by-side located in the Gerald Ford Museum exhibit. In addition to raising her family and working, Eleanor loved playing table tennis, and quite often with her boys and Floyd. In fact, she even took part in several tournaments.
Grandchildren were the delight of Eleanor’s life. She so loved them and never passed up an opportunity to see them. When she was able, she attended their sporting and school events and she was their number one fan. A great storyteller, even as her grandchildren grew older they continued to love hearing her beloved stories. Memories of her faithful and fun ways will truly remain a treasure in their hearts.
When Eleanor’s Floyd passed away in 1993, the love of family and the strength of her Lord sustained her. Always a fairly independent woman, Eleanor continued on and soon moved into an apartment which made her day-to-day life easier on her. For the last six years, Eleanor resided at Beacon Hill where she made numerous friends. She kept active there and she really enjoyed doing puzzles.
Eleanor Gillett lived a life of faith and set a fine example for her children to live by. She held fast to her faith in every endeavor all while enjoying life at every opportunity. Gone but not forgotten are the wonderful memories she leaves behind.
Eleanor Ruth Gillett, age 94 of Grand Rapids, entered the presence of her Lord and Savior on August 18, 2016. She was preceded in death by her husband, Floyd as well as her brothers and sisters. Eleanor is survived by her children Dave & Wanda Gillett, Bob & Jan Gillett; grandchildren Steven (Connie), Craig (Christine), Eric (Desiree), Allison (Keith Foote), Stephanie, and Andrew (Jaclyn); 15 great-grandchildren: Isaac, Josiah, Benjamin, Rachael, Jasmine, Elizabeth, Angelica, Enoch, Malaki, Matthew, Michael, Jacob, Hailey, Spencer and Lydia; and many nieces and nephews. The service to celebrate and remember Eleanor's life will be held on Monday, August 22 at 11 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Van Strien Creston Chapel, 1833 Plainfield Ave. NE where friends are invited to visit with her family from 10 AM until the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to the Beacon Hill Foundation to be used for benevolent care are appreciated. To read more about Eleanor, to share a favorite photo or memory, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com.