Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Ed Nieuwenhuis, who passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. Ed served on Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank’s board of directors for 11 years. He possessed the quiet wisdom of expertise in the service of a compassionate heart.
Ed will be known to those outside the Food Bank as a Grand Haven city councilman and mayor pro-tem and as the retired Vice President of Logistics at Meijer, Inc.
During his 30 years at Meijer, Ed built an intricate and efficient transportation system.
“I know one year the savings in his division were better than the savings of the corporation,” Ed’s friend and fellow board member Bob Stark recalled. “He was very good at detail and the big picture.”
When he retired in 2002, Ed brought his knowledge to the Food Bank’s board of directors and pushed to adopt a racking system in the warehouse. “He got that donated for free and installed” in spite of the resistance of some on staff, Bob said. The move increased the Food Bank’s storage capacity three-fold.
“Based on his background, he could see possibilities that perhaps other people couldn’t,” board member Buzz Baker said. “There was some wisdom that you could expect from Ed when he talked.”
While serving on the Grand Haven City Council in 2008, Ed was instrumental in salvaging negotiations with the Meijer corporation on a special bus route to their Grand Haven Township store. The contract agreement preserved access to fresh foods for thousands of people without transportation, many of them elderly.
In 1983, Ed and his wife, Sandy, bought a cottage on Lover’s Lane in Grand Haven’s historical Highland Park neighborhood. A family man and a sailor, Ed arranged bareboat charters with his family and friends. He remained active on the Food Bank’s board and in the lives of his grandchildren. He was returning from his grandson’s soccer game on Saturday when he suffered a major heart attack.
Ed and Sandy were married 50 years and were planning to hold a public celebration this Friday in Grand Rapids.
Visitation is scheduled for Thursday, October 24, from 2-4 and from 6-8 p.m. at Sytsema’s Lee Chapel in Norton Shores. Memorial gifts may be made to Calvin Christian School, Grand Rapids Christian School, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank, and Covenant Life Church.