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Rest Haven Home
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Life Story / Obituary
In many ways, Eleanore Chapel defined the meaning of undeniable devotion and dedication as a woman of faith. A true blessing, her generous spirit, giving nature and warmhearted ways were an inspiration and gift to all. Her life was enriched in countless ways as she gave of her time and talents, and with a grace all her own, goodness radiated from her heart.
By 1930, the effects of the Great Depression were already creating financial havoc from coast to coast. Yet for Daniel and Alice Margaret (Hage) Ploeg of Grand Rapids, Michigan, faith and the promises of God sustained them as they rejoiced in the blessing of new life on June 24, 1930, welcoming the birth of their little girl, Eleanore Louise.
The Ploeg family made their home on Cedar Street SE in Grand Rapids. The oldest of three, Eleanore was later joined by her younger siblings, Daniel and Nancy. Her father worked for the John Witticomb Furniture Company while her mother was a devoted homemaker. They were also faithful members of Calvary Undenominational Church where young Eleanore grew in her faith. As a girl she took piano lessons and continued to play the piano throughout her life. During her youth she earned money picking blueberries, all while enjoying a childhood typical of her generation attending Burr Oak Elementary School.
With faith as her guide, Eleanore graduated from Central High School with the Class of 1948. She took on a job with the Weidner Van Label Company and also went on to further her education. After high school she attended Calvin College where after two years she earned her teaching certificate. Many changes were taking place in Eleanore’s life, but the best was yet to come.
While on a blind date, Eleanore met Donald J. Chapel at a Youth for Christ Rally. They shared their first date going to Buth Dairy for ice cream, and from that moment on it seemed Eleanore was destined to be Donald’s lifelong helpmate. When they met he was working at a local furniture factory and attending Grand Rapids Baptist Theological Seminary. Blessed with a deep, abiding love, the couple was married on June 27, 1952 at East Leonard Baptist Church, just days following Eleanore’s 22nd birthday.
After spending a memorable honeymoon in Traverse City, Eleanore and Donald settled into an apartment on Lafayette Street NE in Grand Rapids for the next two years. By now Eleanore’s husband had graduated from seminary, and as Rev. Donald Chapel, he took his first call to serve a church in the small coal mining town of Matewan, West Virginia. Eleanore did quite well in her role as a pastor’s wife. With her genuine nature and servant’s heart, it was all she needed to be involved in the many churches they served. Along with her husband, Eleanore also helped with a weekly radio show on WHJC from Sprigg Bible Church.
Before long, three wonderful daughters graced the lives of Eleanore and Donald. Keren was born in 1955, followed by Suellen in 1957, and Denise completed their family in 1959. Eleanore made a good home for Donald and their girls. She was a pretty good cook, especially family favorites such as her spaghetti and her homemade macaroni and cheese. A loving and supportive mother, she served her children well, and taught them by example. Eleanore sewed outfits and doll clothing for girls and some of her own clothing. The family often sang hymns together at home while Eleanore played the piano. She even taught the girls to harmonize when they were four, six and eight years old and lovingly referred to them as her little “Chapel Bells.”
After six years in West Virginia, the Chapel’s returned to Michigan when Donald began serving a church in Harrison. They spent five years there before moving to a new church home in Edmore where they remained for 11 years. Eleanore and her family spent countless days enjoying their cottage on Haven Lake where they summered for 15 years. The girls were young during this time, and many great memories were enjoyed boating, swimming, and fishing. Donald always took one day off a week to spend with his family, and two weeks each summer for vacation.
For ten years, Donald served as pastor at Berlin Baptist Church in Marne. When a church in Portland called him to serve, they made that area their home for the next seven years until Donald retired. Throughout the years, Eleanore was a steadfast help to her husband. Wherever the Lord took them, Eleanore became involved in their church community. She taught Sunday school, played and taught piano, was involved in youth programs, served as choir and band director, and supervised Wednesday night meetings. It never mattered the task at hand . . . Eleanore was there to help, and she happily and humbly did so, never expecting any recognition.
Never one to be idle, in her “free” time, Eleanore loved tending to her gardens and grew many vegetables for canning and freezing in the fall. Her flower gardens were absolutely beautiful which brimmed each year with her favorite flowers, yellow roses and pansies. Eleanore wasn’t much for TV with the exception of Jeopardy! the Wheel of Fortune and the news. Her greatest joy, however, was found in her beloved grandchildren. Eleanor truly loved and cherished them, and later, great-grandkids. She never missed one of their special days or birthdays, and even raised a few of them by babysitting through the years.
In retirement, Donald and Eleanore worked for INTERPAS where Donald served as an interim minister at churches without a pastor. They’d often spend weeks up to six months before moving on to another church. They did so for ten years, all while remaining active at Lincoln Lake Baptist Youth Camp which they so enjoyed. After making their home on Rehoboth Drive NE, Don eventually retired for good five years ago, but his service and passion for the ministry of Christ never waned. Donald and Eleanore were endless prayer warriors. In earnest they continually prayed for family, friends, and the needs of many.
About this time in 2011, Eleanore suffered a stroke, but made a full recovery. She had another mild stroke in 2013, but the major stroke Eleanore suffered last Tuesday offered little hope of recovery this time. Returning home from the hospital when little more could be done, Eleanore was placed under the care of Faith Hospice.
Eleanore was a wonderful, loving and dedicated, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and a dear friend to everyone she met. Through her caring spirit, she used her talents for the benefit of others, and loved standing by her husband’s side in ministry. Faith and family were the very center of Eleanore’s faith filled life for which she was ever grateful, and blessed. Deeply missed, Eleanore will be lovingly remembered by those who knew and loved her.
Eleanore L. Chapel, aged 85, of Grand Rapids, went to be with her Lord and Savior at her home on Thursday morning, September 3, 2015 in the presence of her loving family. She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Rev. Donald Chapel; her children, Keren Chapel (Al Lamba), Suellen (Randy) Hadley, Denise (Michael) Smith; eight grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren; her brother, Dan (Millie) Ploeg; sister, Nancy (Dale) King; many nieces, nephews and friends. A service to celebrate Eleanore’s life will be held on Tuesday, September 8, 11:00 AM at Berlin Baptist Church, 1519 Jackson St., Marne, MI. Relatives and friends may meet her family at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home–2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW on Sunday from 2-4 and 6-8 PM and again at the church on Tuesday from 10 AM until the service begins at 11:00. Contributions in Eleanore’s memory may be made to Rest Haven Home. To read more about Eleanore’s life, to leave your own memory of her and to sign her guest book, please visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com.