Friday, December 8, 2023

Steve VanderVeen: Even more women who helped make Holland

Must read

This week, we’ll highlight even more female innovators.

Lida Rogers and Ida Cohen Padnos

Lida Rogers (1877-1963) was born in Adrian, Michigan. She graduated from Eastern Michigan University. In the 1920s, she joined Holland Public Schools. In 1927, during a meeting of the Women’s Literary Club, she shared a vision for a “tulip day” every spring. That idea became Tulip Time.

Ida Cohen’s father, Aaron, emigrated from Poland to America in 1892. Ida and her mother and siblings — Esther, Abraham (Otto), Sadie (Syma), and Simon — joined Aaron in Chicago in 1889.

In 1910, Ida married Louis Padnos’ brother Harry. Harry and Ida moved to California to start a cosmetics business, but it went bankrupt. Louis then convinced Harry, Ida, Otto and Simon to join him in Holland. There, Harry opened a retail clothing and shoe business. But again, Harry went bankrupt.

More: Steve VanderVeen: The women who helped make Holland

More: Steve VanderVeen: The women who helped make Holland, continued

Meanwhile Ida and her siblings mixed cosmetics and sold them door-to-door. In 1913, they secured a trademark and, later, a contract with Woolworths. In 1922, Otto and Simon incorporated the famous Lady Esther Company in Chicago.

Katherine Fuller Cooper and Hazel Hayes

Katherine Fuller (1897-1975) married John Cooper in 1917. In 1924, from Coopersville, John hauled gravel and freight. In 1928, he hauled pulpwood from Trout Lake to Rexford for the Muskegon Paper Company, and the family lived in a tent. 

In 1929, the Coopers moved to Holland. They rented the old cannery building at Fifth Street and Central Avenue and started Holland Motor Express. Katherine ran the Holland office, working on a rented typewriter. In the winter, she kept her feet warm by putting them in a box of straw. 

In 1953, Hazel Hayes (1896-1993) accepted the position of librarian for the Holland City Library, after earning a Master of Library Science degree. In 1958, the Woman’s Literary Club started gathering donations for a new library. When Hazel overheard two men in a restaurant talking about Ray Herrick, a wealthy industrialist who’d grown up in Holland, she secretly wrote him a letter.

That letter launched Herrick Public Library. 

Evelyn De Bruyn

As a teenager, Evelyn De Bruyn (1916-2011) worked for her father, David De Bruyn, at the former LaHuis Store in Zeeland. In the 1930s, she ran the grocery/dry goods portion of his business.

In 1971, after the passing of her husband, Dick, Evelyn assumed his role as treasurer-secretary at Michigan Shore Nursery. Then friends encouraged her to manage, then own, The Dutchess Shopp. Soon she had three stores, one in Holland and two in Zeeland.

The Van Wierens, Edna Van Raalte and Joyce Wierenga Vos

In 1930, Anna helped her husband, John Van Wieren, start an ice business. In 1948, Anna’s sister-in-law, Harriet, and her husband, Andy Van Wieren, purchased a Sinclair gas station, lunchroom and bait shop on the southeast corner of Division Avenue and Ottawa Beach Road.

There, Harriet managed the lunchroom, which eventually became Van Wieren’s Hardware. In 1968, Harriet’s daughter-in-law, Geneva, joined the business, which today is owned and operated by Geneva’s daughter Deb.

In 1939, Joyce Wierenga (1920-2008) married Ed Vos and became his “feet” at Ed’s Bike Shop, which evolved into Reliable Cycle. An avid pool player, she also helped Ed open and run a pool hall franchise on the store’s second floor.

Edna Van Raalte helped her husband Paul open and operate The Hub Restaurant in 1950 and Van Raalte’s Fine Food in 1956. 

Subscribe: Get unlimited access to our local coverage

Maria DeMartinez, Juanita Raez and Lupita Reyes

Maria DeMartinez and Juanita Raez met in 1966 as field workers when they became sisters-in-law. In 1968, they took factory jobs at General Electric. Then, in the early 1990s, they bought an ice cream shop at Lakewood Avenue and Waverly Road. Although they knew nothing about restaurants, they started and sustained Taco Fiesta for over 30 years. 

Lupita Reyes emigrated from Mexico to Holland as a little girl. Although her first school principal labeled her learning impaired and her high school counselor discouraged her from attending college, Lupita graduated from GVSU with a 4.0 GPA and landed an administrative job at Holland Hospital.

In 1964, she co-founded the Latin American Society, forerunners of Community Action House and Latin Americans United for Progress. She also launched a radio show on WHTC. Later she started a counseling program at Catholic Human Development and, in 1995, co-founded the Holland Community Health Center, then directed it for 10 years.

In 2005, she co-founded the Lakeshore Community Outreach Center and, later, LAR Counseling.

— Steve VanderVeen is a resident of Holland. You may reach him at His book, “The Holland Area’s First Entrepreneurs,” is available at Reader’s World. 

Latest article