Wanetta Marie Armintrout, age 99, passed away peacefully at her home in Moline on September 10, 2023. She was born in Moline on June 10, 1924, the daughter of Alton and Gertrude (Van Horn) Frank. It was in Moline that she was mostly raised, alongside her grandparents and even her great-grandparents. She had a special bond with her Aunt Ollie. She accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior at a very young age. She had a lifelong love of reading, and kept a scripture journal or list all of her life.
When she was 18, she met Dale Armintrout while she was a student at County Normal in Allegan. World War II was raging and in her words “those were different times.” They were engaged then married within three months or less of when they first met. Later, when thinking about it, Dale would say, “why did we waste all that time”
Dale went into the Army less than a month after they were married. He was selected for special and extra training. Wanetta followed him whenever she could. One story was that when they were living in Tennessee, Dale’s parents came to visit. When it was time to leave, Dale’s father asked him to take them to the train station. Dale said “I don’t’ understand, you drove here.” His dad then told him that they were leaving the car for him and Wanetta. She was always grateful for the support they had from both sets of parents. Eighty years later, she was still amazed that not one of them said one word to discourage them from getting married so soon.
In March, 1944 their son Allen was born. Later that year, Dale was sent into combat in Europe as a forward artillery observer, with the 14
Armor Division. He survived the hellish battle of Hatten, France. It was an eleven day pitched battle where their orders were to hold at all cost. That they did, even though the Germans held 2/3 of that small village. He then went on, deep into Germany where his outfit liberated 130,000 allied prisoners. In April he was wounded in the knee and spent months in the hospital. He suffered from that injury for a lifetime and never complained. His fellow soldiers called it “a million dollar wound” meaning that they would survive and be removed from combat. These were the times that Wanetta lived through, while caring for her baby, Allen.
After the war, Wanetta and Dale established their home in Allegan. Dale worked with his father and brother at Armintrout & Sons, one of the first combinations of grocery store and meat market. Upon learning that their son, Allen, was and would always be deaf, they vowed to each other that they’d concentrate on him, to give him the best upbringing that they could, which they certainly did.
There was an excellent school for the deaf in Grand Rapids. Dale and Wanetta made the decision to move to Moline and open their own mom & pop grocery. This would shorten the twice a day drive to Grand Rapids and back. Although it took a lot of hours and a lot of work, Wanetta loved it as it allowed them to spend their days together. Wanetta developed a lifelong tolerance of cold coffee. She said “they’d just pour a cup, and the doorbell would jingle telling them that a customer had just walked in.”
When in their early forties, Dale & Wanetta sold their store and went back to school to become teachers. They both taught in and retired from the Wayland School District. Wanetta loved teaching 6
grade. When asked about it, she would say “they were all good kids.” Recently an ex-student said that she was everyone’s favorite teacher.
Wanetta said that she loved being a housewife. It was from her Dutch mother, the first in her family to be born in the USA, she learned to keep and take pride in a clean and tidy house. She said that Monday’s were for washing, etc, etc, and Fridays were for cleaning house. She never went to bed without first straightening things up and never woke up to an untidy house.
Wanetta led an active church and social life up into her 90’s. She liked and connected with people of all ages. She was quick, had a great sense of humor and was fun to be with. She made friends, even lifelong friends easily. She was always the great hostess. Everyone who entered her home was made to feel sincerely welcomed. She always offered everyone food and drink, usually a cookie & coffee. Her life was well lived.
Wanetta loved her home where she had so many good memories. Her wish was to spend the rest of her days at home. She had given such excellent and selfless care to her mother and Dale in their final years and to Allen in his final days, that it was only right that someone would care for her when needed. A team of her friends and family were there for her. Then several who did not know Wanetta got involved and they quickly bonded with her. She was that kind of person.
Wanetta was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, Dale Frank; her husband of 67 years, Dale and her son, Allen, who she loved so very much.
She is survived by her nephews, Walter (Mary) Frank, Robert (Marcia) Frank and David (Nancy) Armintrout; nieces, Diana (Rick) Lloyd and Paula (Verne) Trinoskey great nieces and nephews; special loving adopted families, the DeKok family, Rookus families, Burgess family and Burley families and special loving friends Eve Foote and Jeanie VandenBos.
Friends may visit with Wanetta’s family starting at 10:00 A.M., Friday, September 15, 2023, at the Moline Baptist Church, until the time of the funeral service at 11:00 A.M., with Pastor Steve DeKok officiating.
Burial will take place at 1:30 P.M., at Dorr Cemetery.
Contributions in memory of Wanetta may be made to the Moline Baptist Church or Wings of Hope Hospice.
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