Bernard Weidenaar ’62
On the evening of June 13, with family by his side, Bernard William Weidenaar entered into eternal life. Bernie was born on October 28, 1934, in Chicago, Illinois. Following his service in the Army, he attended Hope College and graduated with an education degree.
He taught English at Hudsonville Public Schools for four years and then went on to work for MESSA as a sales representative. Bernie was recruited to start the Wisconsin Education Association Insurance Trust in Madison, Wisconsin, where he worked for the next ten years. He continued to work in the insurance industry for several years and then retired to his home on Lake Leelanau. On September 19, 1959, he married the love of his life, Janice Kootstra; together they raised four children. Bernie was devoted to his wife, and the love that they shared was inspiring to all who knew them. Even though he had been living with Alzheimer’s for several years, he always recognized Jan and continuously expressed his love for her . Bernie was a true gentleman. He was so proud of his children and grandchildren; he would share stories about them to anyone who would listen. If you knew Bernie, you knew he enjoyed many things in life- music, boating on Lake Leelanau, golfing, a good steak- medium rare, crossword puzzles, sudoku, his wife’s pot roast, water skiing, spending his winters in Florida, eggs benedict, strong, black coffee, and a perfect manhattan. He was well-read and willing to talk to anyone about anything. He had a silly side, which was often reserved for his close family; he was kind, compassionate, fun, stubborn, always on time, and he would do just about anything for the people he loved. Even in the last few weeks of his life, when the Alzheimer’s was at its worst, he tried to cheer up those around him by singing songs and making silly faces.
Bernie loved being involved in the Maritime Heritage Alliance and sailing on the Madeline. You would often find him grilling his famous brats during the annual boat auction. He served as President of the Lake Leelanau Lake Association for several years, and he was an active member of Faith Reformed Church. He taught countless family members how to water ski- always patient, encouraging, and determined. Time spent with his children and grandchildren was precious to him. Bernie leaves behind his wife of 63 years, Janice, daughter, Karen Weidenaar (Jeff Eckert), of Spring, Texas, his son, Tom Weidenaar (Melinda), of South Carolina, daughter, Lynda (Blake) Key, of Cedar, and daughter, Susan (Michael) O’Connor, of Traverse City, four grandchildren- Lindsey Weidenaar, of Augusta, Georgia, Mark Weidenaar, of Aiken, South Carolina, and Blake and Austin O’Connor, of Traverse City, brother, Peter (Beth) Weidenaar, of Grand Rapids, sister, Helen (Ken) Blauw, of Elmhurst, Illinois, and his sister, Hets (Bill) DeRose, of Palos Heights, Illinois. He missed out on a lot of important family events because of the Alzheimers. We take comfort in knowing that he is finally at peace and has all of his memories again. We love you, and we will never forget you. We would also like to say a special thank you to ProMedica Hospice of Traverse City as well as Ashley and the staff at PACE North who took such great care of him during his last days.