Gardening 07

Arlene Averil (Sluiter) Small

November 23, 1925 ~ October 24, 2023 (age 97) 97 Years Old

Arlene Small Obituary

Arlene Averil Sluiter Small, 97, of Cadillac passed away peacefully at home on October 24, 2023, surrounded by her loving family.  She was born November 23, 1925 in Missaukee County, Richland Township, MI to Martin and Florence Sluiter.

Growing up during the Great Depression as part of a large family, Arlene worked hard helping with the chores that came with living on a farm tending livestock and growing food. As a teenager, she began working at the Royal Hotel in Cadillac until World War II began.

With family already serving overseas, Arlene became a Rosie the Riveter. Even though she was just 17 years of age, and one of the youngest seamstresses at Cadillac Fabrics, Arlene’s skill and work ethic insured she met strict quotas while sewing parachutes and making ‘trigger finger mittens.’ 

She was introduced to her beloved husband, Bobby Ray Small, on a blind date, and they were married on January 26, 1945 in the chapel on the Navy Base in Norman, OK.

Throughout their 65 years of marriage, Arlene and Bob shared a deep love, friendship, and respect evident to all who knew them. They enjoyed building and remodeling several homes together. After retiring, they set out for adventure, making three trips across the country in their RV.  Winters were spent at their home in Bradenton, FL, and summers saw them return to Michigan where they were members of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Arlene enjoyed singing in the choir, teaching 4-H classes, and being part of the Cooperative Extension Club. 

She also loved playing her piano and kept hand-written lists of her favorite hymns on the music rack. Other treasured activities included hosting family reunions; going to, and holding, garage sales; and writing and receiving letters. 

Arlene lived a life of integrity marked by faithful service to God and others. She now rests until her Savior’s return.

A devoted and beloved mother and grandmother, Arlene is survived by her children, Judith Small Bender (Jark) Lau of Marietta GA, and Kevin (Barbara) Small of  Kentwood MI; grandchildren Karen Bender (Donald) Drexler, Brian Bender, Danielle Small (Ethan) Ryder, and Katie Small (Sean) Barton, and four great-grandchildren, Emily, Elizabeth, Joseph Drexler and Charlie Ryder.  Also surviving are two brothers, Martin (Naomi, deceased), and Wayne (Mary, deceased) Sluiter, brother-in-law Donald Small (Helga, deceased), and two younger sisters Carol (John, deceased) Rolf, and Sandra (Gordon, deceased) Cole. She also has numerous nieces and nephews.

In addition to her parents, Arlene was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Bobby R, an infant younger sister, her older sister Phyllis (Lyndon and Horace) Greeley, and younger brothers, John (Barbara), and Dean (Lori) Sluiter.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests a donation to the Munson Health Care Hospice.

Memorial services will be held on Sunday, October 29, 2023 at 2 p.m. with visitation held one hour prior at Hitesman-Holdship Funeral Home.

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The family is being served by Hitesman-Holdship Funeral Home.

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October 29, 2023

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Hitesman-Holdship Funeral Home
620 North Mitchell Street
Cadillac, MI 49601

Memorial Service
October 29, 2023

2:00 PM
Hitesman-Holdship Funeral Home
620 North Mitchell Street
Cadillac, MI 49601


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