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Life Story / Obituary
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” Proverbs 17:22.
Elton Trudell touched the lives around him with his happy, positive spirit. He always had a smile or a chuckle to pass along to those he met. His friendly greetings and joy will be missed. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10.
Elton was born to Lydia and Amede Trudell in the small town of Florence, Wisconsin, on October 17, 1922. He was the fifth child of eight, with a total of four brothers and three sisters.
His father was a paint contractor while his mom stayed home with the children. Elton had a strong work ethic from an early age. When he painted the family car as a small child, his family reported he did an excellent job. Not a spot was left unpainted (at least all the spots he could reach!) and perhaps a foreshadowing of his future occupation.
Elton enjoyed words as a young man and received awards for his efforts in debate club. He also enjoyed music and played the piano, string bass and saxophone, participating in jazz ensembles. He graduated from Florence High School in 1940.
The family relocated to the Detroit area in search of improved work prospects. Elton worked for his dad, along with three of his brothers. He also became involved in a church family, Ward Memorial Presbyterian. He was active with the young adults, Bible study and singing in the choir.
In April 1944 Elton enlisted to serve his country. He joined the Navy as his two brothers had. Then he got to thinking… he never felt very well when out on the water. So he returned to the enlistment officer and asked to be changed to the Army. He served just over two years, one year in the Army Corps of Engineers in Central Europe and another year in the Army of Occupation.
Dad said he missed death on many occasions. As a child, someone thought they’d teach him to swim by throwing him in the lake. As he felt he was on his last breath, they fished him out. He also thought if he took a flaming cat tail and stuck it in a gas can, it would burn brighter. One of his brothers saved his life by preventing that from happening. During the war, his unit was held back or assigned other jobs, thereby missing major campaigns that ended badly. At one point, his job was to drive a supply truck daily. One day he was given another task to do, and the man who took his place died when a mine exploded on the same road he traveled every day.
When the war ended, Elton was stationed in Berlin in charge of prisoners of war. He sought for ways to occupy his fellow soldiers time, with better choices than alcohol and women. He was allowed space to create a recreation center. He procured a pool table and supplies for an ice cream parlor. He had German locals build a fireplace. It became a place where the men could relax in a wholesome environment.
Elton returned to the US in June 1946, to his work with his family and to his church family. It was there he was introduced to Barbara Meinzinger by her sister Eunice. They attended a Chorale concert November 13, 1947 and after a whirlwind courtship, they were engaged on Christmas day of the same year. They said their “I dos” on March 19, 1948 at Ward Memorial Presbyterian Church, where they had met. They eventually set up their home in Dearborn, Michigan. Elton and Barbara had two children, Steven and Janey. Elton worked as a paint contractor until his early 70’s. He sold insurance for a period of time, but felt that occupation was not for him.
Both Elton and Barbara were actively involved at Dearborn Chapel. Elton assisted with song leading, putting on Cantatas and organizing Mother-Daughter Banquets. He really would put on a spread! Every person had their own half of a roasted Cornish Hen with stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, a vegetable, salad and desert. He also had a crew of men to assist in serving the women and girls and also to do the clean up afterwards. “And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation.” Psalms 35:9.
Elton loved music and played the organ and piano at home for his own pleasure and for his young daughter, Janey, as she would twirl around the living room, pretending to be a ballerina. He also would play his string bass until after he retired and moved to Rest Haven Homes and then sold it to someone from the Grand Rapids symphony, as he no longer had the room for it. He sang for awhile at Forest Hills Bible Chapel when they had special programs, and then continued to sing at church on Sunday and at Rest Haven Homes choir with gusto until the Lord took him home. He still had a keyboard in his room and a stack of books he played from.
Elton continued with his love for words, enjoying Word Power in Reader’s Digest, using big words that no one in his family knew. He loved crossword puzzles and was so confident, he did them in pen! Barbara and Elton played Scrabble and Upwards until mom was no longer able, due to her vision and memory problems.
Elton LOVED peanuts and candy bars! Barb called him her “resident squirrel”! After his open heart surgery, he had to “sneak out” to have a candy bar, going to fill the car up as an excuse. Barbara was finally convinced, by her family, that it was okay for dad to have a treat once in awhile. He like candy so much that one year he dressed up as an old lady ( with mom’s wig and help with makeup and clothes) so he could go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood for free candy.
Elton stopped working in 1993, but started gaining weight, due to inactivity. So back to work he went, first as a bagger at Meijer’s Grocery Store and then on to Russ’s as a busboy/dishwasher until his late 80’s. We’re guessing he was the oldest busboy/dishwasher they’d ever had. He developed many friendships there among the regular customers and workers, and even had young girls calling him at home…to see if he’d pick up hours for them! Dad liked to serve and was always trying to clear the table at family functions and even fellowship dinners.
Both Elton and Barbara were voracious readers, but as mom lost her vision from macular degeneration, dad read to her. They were also daily prayer warriors. As Barbara’s memory began to fade, Elton took on other chores such as cooking and laundry. He was a loving and committed husband for 66 years. Barb praised him for his notes and love letters that he wrote to her over the many years.
In the spring of 2015, after Barbara’s home going in January, Elton and his daughter, Janey, went on a trip to Washington, DC, called Honor Flight. It was a whirlwind trip to honor the World War II veterans by taking them to the WWII Memorial and other featured sites in DC. It was a very memorable trip and at every stop there were men and women of our armed forces present to welcome and thank the veterans for there service.
Elton was a very positive, happy man. He knew his assurance for this life and in the next to come were in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Years ago, when his daughter was upset and hurt over how someone had treated her, he reminded her (after he had comforted her) that a hundred years from now it wouldn’t make any difference. If our life is founded on Christ and what He has done for us, our future is secure in Him.
“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16
“Thou wilt show me the path of life, in they presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalms 16:11
Elton George Trudell, 93, of Grand Rapids, went to be with his Lord on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. He is survived by his children, Steven and Linda Trudell, Janey and Dan Hennesey; his five grandchildren, Erica Trudell, Jeremy (Eneviv) Trudell, Lisette (Dave) Woloszyk, Meghan (Zachary) Borowski, and Aaron (Kim) Hennesey; nine great grandchildren, his sister-in-law, Delores Meinzinger; many nieces, nephews and friends. Elton was a loving and happy husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather and friend to all. He will be missed greatly and lovingly remembered. A service to celebrate his life will be held on Saturday, March 12 at 10:30 AM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, Van Strien Chapel, at 1833 Plainfield NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505. Visitation at the funeral chapel will be on Saturday from 9:30 AM until the service starts. To read more about Elton’s life, to sign his guest book and to leave your own memory of him, visit his web page at www.lifestorynet.com.