Eleanore L. "Elie" Nicolette

August 2, 1925 - September 13, 2016
Grand Rapids, MI



Friday, September 16, 2016
12:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
Brann's Grandville Banquet Center
2900 Wilson Ave.
Grandville, MI 49419


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.

Faith Hospice at Trillium Woods
8214 Pfeiffer Farms Dr SW
Byron Center MI, MI 49315
Web Site

Van Andel Education Institute
333 Bostwick Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Throughout her rich and rewarding life, Eleanore “Elie” Nicolette lived fully in the moments she was given while making precious memories with her loved ones. It is easy to see that life was all about family, and her family included so many extra ones to love over the years. Sundays were priceless family days, and there was nothing that made her feel more fulfilled than being surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. A classy lady, Elie always liked to look her best and was rarely without her red lipstick. Life will never be the same without her here, but she leaves behind a legacy that is deeply rooted in love and selfless sacrifice that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.

It was great to be an American during the decade that we commonly recall as the Roaring Twenties. Jazz was the music of the day while Broadway was at an all time peak. Ballroom dancing, motion pictures in both color and sound, and radios were also threads that were heavily woven throughout the tapestry of our nation’s history. It was in 1925 that Edward and Elspeth Graham (Wands) Rypkema announced the birth of the baby girl they named Eleanore Louise on August 2nd in Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her father worked as a sales representative for a paper company while her mother was a homemaker who became a full-time secretary for an insurance company after becoming widowed at an early age. Elie was the youngest of three children as she was raised in the family home alongside her older siblings, Edward Jr. and Margaret. Her dog, Peggy, was an important part of her life as well. Sadly, Elie’s father died when she was just three years old.

In many ways Elie was a young girl of her generation. She often walked to Ramona Park on Reeds Lake with her friends in the summer and loved to visit relatives in the area. As a student Elie attended Widdicomb Elementary, Lafayette Elementary, Fountain Elementary, and Central High School, and the Rypkema family attended Westminster Presbyterian Church where she enjoyed singing in the children's choir. When she was old enough, Elie got a work permit and began working at Grant's 5 & 10, working there throughout high school.

Life was forever changed for Elie during the fall of her sophomore year when she went on a blind date that turned out to be with the love of her life. His name was Ted Nicolette. Elie was in the ROTC and often marched with the band during football games at Central High School. One day, the kicker of the Central High team was going for the extra point and the ball hit her in the head! The kicker? It was her boyfriend, Ted. They loved to share that story and claim that, “Elie always got a big ‘kick’ out of Ted!" When America joined in the fight during WWII, Ted Joined the Army while Elie waited his return for four years. The sweethearts were married on July 12,1947, at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, followed by a small family reception.

After a honeymoon spent on Torch Lake, the couple was eager to begin their new lives together as a married couple. Ted took a job as a teacher at Bronson High School in Bronson, Michigan, where they lived six years. While living there, Elie taught the high school boys how to dance for 10 cents a lesson during the lunch hour. They then returned to Grand Rapids where they settled in a home on Spencer Street on the Northeast Side. They later moved to Colorado Street SE, and finally built a new home on 8th Street NW in the 1960s, and this is where they spent the remainder of their lives. Together Elie and Ted welcomed two boys including Tom in 1950 and Jim in 1953 into their hearts and home. Both parents were very involved in all aspects of their children’s lives. The Nicolettes enjoyed many family vacations to Washington, D.C., New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, and St. Louis, to name just a few. Elie and the boys always attended any sporting events that Ted was involved in as Coach, and Elie was always there as their children became involved in sports as well. They were a big sports family both on a local level and also on the professional level on television as they watched the Detroit Lions and various college games, especially Notre Dame football and basketball. Oh, and let’s not forget golf! She frequently attended GVSU football games and tailgated with Jim and his family.

As their kids married and had children of their own, family remained a cornerstone in the lives of Elie and Ted. They attended more and more sporting events all over town and even those of their nieces and nephews (as well as their children). They never missed a game, event, or special day of their children’s, grandchildren’s, or great grandchildren’s lives. For many years, most Sundays the family came to their home for dinner where they watched sports, played games, and simply enjoyed spending time together. Elie and Ted were also honorary grandparents to many of their grandchildren’s friends. Elie was a wonderful cook of pork chops, chicken and rice, scalloped potatoes, and wonderful macaroni salad and deviled eggs.

Over the years Elie maintained an active lifestyle. She worked as a school secretary at both Westwood Hills Elementary and West Leonard Elementary for 35 years until both she and Ted retired in 1989. After retirement Elie and Ted took frequent day trips to small diners throughout Michigan for lunch or dinner, and they also spent time in Florida for many winters. After about 10 years, they decided they didn’t like being away from family and stopped going to Florida. Elie knitted for a time, and she was also an avid reader of biographies and novels. She loved the music of the Big Band Era and some of her favorites included Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Steve & Edie.

After Ted died on March 22, 2012, she continued to treasure the love and support from her family and friends. Family members visited her nearly every day after his death. She continued being active, driving, and attending many of the family, school and sporting events as their spirit of family togetherness remained strong. She enjoyed frequent lunches and outings with nieces, nephews and neighborhood friends.

All who knew Eleanore Nicolette would agree that she was a true blessing. She was full of laughter and had a wonderful sense of humor, which made her so much fun to be around. Eleanore was the matriarch of her family, and her love for each and every family member permeated everything she did. Truly beautiful on the inside and out, Elie will never be forgotten.

Eleanore L. “Elie” Nicolette (Rypkema), aged 91 of Grand Rapids, passed away on Tuesday morning, September 13, 2016, at Faith Hospice at Trillium Woods, with her loving family at her side. She was preceded in death by her husband of 65 years, Theodore Nicolette. She is survived by her children, Thomas and Kathy Nicolette, James and Christine Nicolette; her grandchildren, Anthony (Rebecca) Nicolette, Tracy (Eric) Horodyski, Kathryn Nicolette, Kara Nicolette, Alexa Nicolette; her great grandchildren, Grant Horodyski, Theodore “T.J.” Nicolette, Claire Nicolette, Lance Horodyski and Danielle Nicolette; many nieces, nephews and friends. Elie was a loving and dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, and a friend to all who knew her. She will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered. Cremation has taken place. A gathering to celebrate Elie’s life will be held on Friday, September 16, from 12:00 – 4:00 PM at Brann’s Grandville Banquet Center, 2900 Wilson Ave. Grandville, MI. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions in her memory to Van Andel Education Institute or Faith Hospice at Trillium Woods. To read more about Elie’s life, to sign her guest book and to leave your own memory of her, visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com