That should be some funeral:
“A dynamic and successful businessman, Art spent much of his life giving back — abundantly — to the community that supported his businesses over the years. His gifts to our health system — and to many other charitable programs in Michigan and beyond — have had immeasurable impact on the quality of life for individuals and families within the community.”
Van Elslander is survived by his wife Mary Ann and his life partner, Sarah Cuyler; sons Gary, Kenneth and David; daughters Debra Van Elslander, Sandy Seroka, Lori Webb, Karen Paglino, Kim Van Elslander, Kris Scarfone and Beth Wood; 32 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and one great-great grandchild.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Achiel and Rose; brother Robert; and children Rickey, Randy and Douglas, as well as Michael, Kyleigh and Kyrsten Webb and Cara Paglino.
If you’re not familiar with him, Art Van Elslander was the founder of Art Van Furniture, which is a well known furniture retailer here in Michigan. I’m not sure where else it operates so maybe the name means nothing to you.
Apparently Art lived quite the double life, although by the end it was hardly a secret he was living with his mistress and hadn’t lived with his wife in years.
Art and the mistress posed for pictures together at events all over town, and no one was shy about publishing them or identifying who was in them. I guess this is just what we consider normal these days.
Look, I can’t be too hard on the media on this one because this is how it is with obituaries. You pretty much let the family word it however they want and they pay you to publish it.
But I can’t help but notice how this is being presented as if it’s such an unremarkable thing. He had a wife. He had a “life partner.” Two different women. Who cares? Life in modern times.
What this really represents is the diminution of marriage in the eyes of the culture, to the point where people think absolutely nothing of telling you plainly they are carrying on with a “life partner” apart from their spouse, and it can’t be judged because nothing can.
It happens at the other end as well, as the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship is also treated as essentially the same thing as marriage. It’s a lot easier to toss in the trash when people get tired of it, but considering how easily people toss away their marriage vows – or just flat-out ignore them in order to do whatever – what difference does it make?
Marriage is a commitment you make in the eyes of God and with His blessings. It works in certain ways and is designed to be between a man and a woman, until death, with complete fidelity and unending devotion. That’s what God says, has always said and will always say.
The culture says, hey, list your “life partner” in the survived-by line of your obituary alongside your wife. Who cares? Do whatever, with whomever.
I hope he enjoyed all the rewards he got from selling people cheap furniture. I have a feeling that’s it.