“He was one of the nicest men I think I’ve ever met,” said Nieuwenhuis, who worked at the Walker office from 1973-2003. “You never knew that man had a dime because he never threw it around. He was a humble and hard-working man that thought a lot about his company, and thought even more about the people who worked for him.”
Frederik “Fred” Meijer died Friday at age 91, decades after his father opened a store in Grand Rapids that eventually grew into a Midwest chain of nearly 200. He died after suffering a stroke.
Nieuwenhuis was in charge of the company’s transportation department. Executives received new cars every 60,000 miles, he said, but Fred Meijer typically opted out.
“Fred never liked to drive the new ones,” Nieuwenhuis recalled. “He would drive the trade-ins because the new ones were a little too fancy for him. He would show up to banquets wearing a new sports coat and tie. He’d say, ‘I got these at the store on sale. Don’t they look great?’ That was Fred.”
The Meijer founder never believed in using an assigned parking space, either.
Spring Lake resident Stacie Stevens-Venhuizen was a real estate paralegal for Meijer Inc. from 1990-93.
“He was a fabulous man,” she said. “He was a very giving man and he gave a lot back to the community which he loved. Working with him was an absolute pleasure. His family are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
There will be an eight-hour visitation for Meijer on Tuesday at the Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.