Sunday, June 25, 2017
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
The Vigil Service will be held Sunday Evening at 7:00 pm
Monday, June 26, 2017
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
St. Alphonsus Catholic Church
224 Carrier NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
What words are there to describe Eleanor May Cordes Smith? The best word is resilient although stubborn also was an adjective used to describe this woman. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She was known for her sense of humor, her laughter and her kindness. She lived long and she lived well.
While most babies now are born in hospitals, Ellie came into this world at her grandmother’s house on Alpine Avenue just south of the expressway. Daughter of August and Mildred Krantz Cordes, Ellie was an only child but was close with her cousins on both sides especially the children of her Uncle Clarence and Aunt Mary Cordes who lived on the family farm in Alpine Township. Cousins Jim, Joe and Louie teased her and even pulled pranks like tossing the farm cats at her which probably was the reason she held a lifetime dislike of felines. She took care of Mary Ellen and Eileen Cordes and started saving for her own farm. Family was so important to her and she remained close to her aunts, uncles and cousins for many years to come. She also had a lifelong friendship with Natalie Yost and her family.
Her parents lived in various places in the Grand Rapids area and spent time down south working while Ellie lived with her grandparents in Chicago. Ellie remembered vividly attending the World’s Fair in the 1930s. Growing up in Grand Rapids she was a Camp Fire Girl and attended Camp Wo-He-Lo located on Lake Michigan near Holland. She attended local schools in the area but left high school to support her parents, working at R.C. Allen. In the late 1940s she also began ushering at the Civic Auditorium and the Speedrome in Comstock Park. It was there that she met Robert (Bob) Smith, a World War II Army veteran, who she eventually married on March 31, 1951. They moved into their home at 603 Valley Avenue N.W. on the west side of Grand Rapids where they raised their three children Deb, Thom and Lynn and attended St. James Catholic Church. The years were spent with Bob working at Wurzburg’s in the warehouse and Ellie taking care of the house and family. Typical of many families at that time, Ellie canned fruits and vegetables. She also liked to sew, crochet and would read the newspaper, clipping coupons, looking for bargains at the local grocery stores.
She was very involved with St. James Catholic School when her children were there working as a room mother and at the popular monthly hot dog sales. She continued her involvement with Camp Fire Girls as a leader, day camp coordinator and committee member. Yearly family vacations were spent traveling to such destinations as northern Michigan, Niagra Falls, Washington, D.C. and even Lincoln Lake where the family still remembers how it rained practically every day.
Ellie returned to work in the 1970s in the food service area at several different locations. She had high standards and kept her area in perfect condition. She also liked getting to know the people she served, assisting them in any way she could. She also returned to ushering downtown at the Civic Auditorium, now known as the Grand Center with Bob joining her. They spent years here, working with people who became friends and seeing many shows, one of their favorites being “Smokey Joe’s Café.” After twenty-six years, Bob and Ellie moved just one block down the street to 734 Valley N.W. They also joined St. Alphonsus Catholic Church.
They traveled to such destinations as Arizona, Las Vegas and Disney World with their son, Br. Thom and also liked visiting him. They also enjoyed bus trips to places like Branson, Missouri with friends and finding a good bargain at a local store or a restaurant aided by the coupons in Ellie’s purse.
Ellie loved spending time with her five grandchildren, having them sleep over, taking them to local destinations like the John Ball Zoo or Meijer Gardens, or attending their many activities like tennis matches, piano concerts and dance recitals. She loved them all dearly and they loved her back.
When Bob’s health declined, Ellie took care of him until he passed away on July 10, 2005. She lived at the house until she moved to Villa Maria, an independent living facility in 2010. Suffering a stroke in November of 2012, made it necessary for her to live permanently at the Sanctuary at Saint Mary’s in Walker. Staff there always shared stories about her humor and laughter that came through every day she was there. They could count on her putting a smile on their faces on a regular basis.
Ellie’s commitment to her family, her community, her faith and her friends were important to her and remained a constant fixture in her life. She will be missed but her spirit will live with those who knew her for a long time to come.
Eleanor May “Ellie” Cordes Smith passed from this life to the next on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, just shy of her 90th birthday. Born to August and Mildred Krantz Cordes on July 21, 1927, in her grandmother’s house on Alpine Avenue, Ellie grew up in the Grand Rapids area. She left high school to support her parents but eventually did earn her diploma many years later. She married Robert (Bob) Smith on March 31, 1951, and they lived on the west side where they raised their three children, Deb, Thom, and Lynn. Ellie spent many years volunteering at St. James Catholic Church and School and became very involved with Camp Fire Girls. She worked for the Canteen Company at three different locations, Mount Mercy, American Seating and Thornapple Valley. In the 1940s she began ushering at the Civic Auditorium. She went back in the mid-1970s to the Grand Center ushering people to their seats, checking their coats or greeting people at the information desk with her never-ending smile and constant wit for over thirty-five years. She was preceded in death by her husband Bob, her parents, her brother-in-law and sister-in-law George and Donna Smith, a niece, Georgia Bennett, several cousins and her lifelong friend Natalie Yost. She is survived by her children Deb (Pete) Meyerholtz, Br. Thom Smith o.f.m. and Lynn (David) Houghton and her beloved grandchildren Andrew (Shelley), Amy and Sarah Meyerholtz and Jenn (Theo Gomes) and Liz Houghton, several nieces and nephews and several cousins especially Mary Ellen Hathaway. The family also would like to thank the staff at the Sanctuary at St. Mary’s who cared for our Mother for the last four and a half years of her life. Visitation will be Sunday, June 25, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW, with a vigil service at 7:00 pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, June 26, at 11:00 am at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, 224 Carrier NE, with visitation beginning one hour before. After the luncheon, interment will be at Resurrection Cemetery. Memorial contributions can be made to the Food and Clothing Center at St. Alphonsus Church in Grand Rapids or Loaves and Fishes in Kalamazoo. To read more about Eleanor's life, to sign her guest book and to leave your own memory of her, visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com.