By Genine Hopkins
Longtime Harrison resident and business owner William Walraven passed away on Thursday, June 13, 2013, after a long battle with cancer. William opened the Walraven Country Garden Fruit Market in May of 1963, building a solid reputation for fresh produce at reasonable prices. That business is still owned by the Walraven family today, with major updates having been added over this past winter, leaving William’s legacy continuing to grow. His death left area residents in shock for the loss.
William was born on March 31, 1936, in Essexville, Michigan to James and Nellie Walraven. He worked on the family farm, meeting, courting and eventually marrying Marlene Naert before moving to the Harrison area. It was his tenacity and hard work ethic that pushed him to open his market, and his dedication to the community that puts him at the top of the list of local business owners. His son Tim and his family currently run the day to day operations at the market, improving and enlarging William’s dream; he is also survived by his wife Marlene, daughters Barb Henry of Harrison, Judy Heintz, and another son, Bill, and 11 grandchildren . Monday’s funeral was a testament to his presence in Harrison, with cars stretching quite a distance along the route from St. Athanasius Church where the services were held, to the St. Athanasius cemetery where his remains will be interred.
“Our father is already greatly missed,” Bill stated, “We will treasure our memories of him greatly.”
Bill also wanted to include the contribution William’s wife – Bill’s mother – made to help William build his business and reputation. The couple would have been married for 56 years on June 29th.