Ferrysburg man to direct broadcast of Meijer funeral

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:14 AM

The ceremony will be broadcast live on WOOD-TV and WGVU-TV, and streamed live on the Internet at www.fredmeijermemorial.com.

Meijer died Friday at age 91, decades after his father opened a store in Grand Rapids that eventually grew into a chain of nearly 200 in five Midwest states.

“We’ve been planning this since we got the news on Friday,” said Scarpino, who asked that the name of the church hosting the funeral not be published because the service is private. “We’re bringing in a satellite truck from Detroit and many businesses in West Michigan are providing support with cameras, lights and audio. We want to provide a quality product for all the people who are interested in seeing this.”

Scarpino said the memorial website launched on Sunday contains information about Meijer, and a place for visitors to pay tribute and share stories.

The video specialist also filmed and produced U.S. Rep. Paul B. Henry’s funeral in 1993.

Scarpino said he will have a crew of 15-20 operating cameras, lights and audio for Meijer’s funeral.

“The goal for us is to not impede or intrude upon the integrity of the service,” he said Scarpino. “We have to be very cognizant of making sure we’re behind the scenes. We’re doing it both in high-definition and standard-definition to accommodate the needs.”

Streaming the funeral service live on the memorial site was Scarpino’s idea.

“I brought it up at a meeting over the weekend and we put it in motion,” he said. “There are a number of folks in Europe who are close to Meijer and family in the Netherlands who aren’t going to be able to make it who will have the opportunity to see the service. Fred touched so many lives. There are so many people who would want to be a part of this who simply won’t be able to get to Grand Rapids.”

Scarpino said he last talked with Meijer on Nov. 16 when he filmed a holiday greeting from Meijer to his employees. The personal greeting was to be played for the workers in December.

“He looked great,” Scarpino said of Meijer, who died after suffering a stroke. “He was very sharp, full of energy, full of life, engaging and very talkative. He wished me and my family ‘Merry Christmas and happy holidays.’”

Scarpino, who has worked for the Meijer Inc. marketing department since 1999, grew emotional when talking about his former boss. His voice broke as he recalled Meijer’s generous spirit.

“The kindness that seemed to surround him was not something you see every day,” Scarpino said. “He just really moved people. I get choked up talking about him and I wasn’t even related to him. He was a wonderful man who commanded the attention and respect of everyone he met. His generosity to West Michigan and the endeavors he supported was huge and can’t be overlooked, which makes his passing all the more sad because there are so few people like him.”

Scarpino said the Meijer family requested the funeral taping.

“They recognize how well thought of he was by people,” Scarpino said. “I feel very privileged to play the part that I’m playing in this to be able to share everyone’s ability to say goodbye to such a kind and wonderful man.”

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