Hello, my name is Fred (Meijer). Lots of time when he introduced himself he'd just say simply, "Just Call Me Fred." When he died on November 25, 2011, the day after Thanksgiving, he was about 13 days shy of his 92nd birthday. Now many people would stop working when they reached the age of 65, but Fred was having lots of fun during the last 27 years.
Those in their 30's had a hard time keeping up with Fred. Fred was like a musical watch. It doesn't stop playing. He knew where he was going and what he had to do before he left this earth. He sacrificed himself to help, inspire and educate others. His name appears on many places; hospitals, research institutions, historical building renewals, but one place you'll never see his name was on a religious institution.
Fred was an atheist and religion he lived without. He had no earthly use for religion, but he did theorize that there were positive things in all faiths (the art of generosity and dignity), but organized religions he wanted no part in. This was the only difference between Fred and my father who was deacon and elder in our church; Knapp Street Reformed Church in Grand Rapids Township until the mid 1970's. Dad followed the teachings of the Holy Bible and taught us children the Ten Commandments -- no guessing what is right or wrong. The Holy Bible is our road map to eternal life, but Fred sacrificed his life for his generous giving to others and left this earth an unbeliever. For all his good works he went to Hell, not Heaven, because he wouldn't let himself believe that Jesus Christ could offer him eternal life. Nothing bears his name on any religious affiliations.
Fred believed in Puritanism and as a Puritan/atheist, he regulated his own way of life and that of communities through his own narrow moral code of excellence that ran parallel with Bible teachings, but he wouldn't let himself believe that Jesus Christ had to be his Savior. He didn't let any sinful or corrupting influences or religious affiliations alter or change his life and the course of his own destiny. He carved out his own niche, choices he made, and no religious person or entity was going to tell him about tithing and what to do in regards to his business affairs.
In 1995 an Ada billionaire and prominent religious member of the community was worried about Fred's salvation and told Lena they had to get Fred right with Jesus. Unfortunately that comment fell on atheist ears, too, because Lena wasn't religious and she was told not to talk about such religious nonsense. During a Grand Rapids Press interview when asked who it was Fred declined to name the man. In a precious moment without prompting Fred said "It was Rich Devos," the Amway co-founder.
Devos and partner Van Andel were men of faith, too, who had been told to keep their faith in Jesus Christ by my father in 1959. We make our own way in life. The choices we make in life helps forge our destiny. Fred, Rich and Jay's dreams and destiny came full circle with my dad's past life 36 years later when Rich Devos seeking Fred's salvation - he wasn't getting younger, but despite prompting he remained atheist and wouldn't budge from his anti-religious stance even at death. All he could ask of Dr. Richard Reahm, his close friend and memorial celebrant, was had he done enough good works?
My father loved Jesus Christ with all his heart, mind and soul and kept his faith strong and alive until his death in 1978, but I can remember the day when my dad told Rich and Jay to believe in Jesus Christ. Him first, wives and children next, but keep the faith and their fledgling business built upon their wildest dreams would succeed. Dad was concerned about their salvation, too, in 1959.
I'm going to stop here because the next segment tells how the later two men were influenced and mentored by my father's life and destiny. I don't want to break the story apart. Religion is a matter of where you keep your heart, mind and soul. To achieve your dreams you must associate yourself with people who support you. Fred didn't want any part of religion telling him his business.