Wilma Veldman, wife of the late Peter Veldman, founder of The Tire Rack, died peacefully on Dec. 12, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. She was 89.
Wilhelmina Aleida Maria Zents met Henricus Petrus Theodorus Veldman in war-torn Holland in 1944.
“I was 17 when we met at the secret party," she said. "I remember that I had never seen Pete before, and I thought he was very good-looking. He was dressed nicely and his hair was wavy. But I was nervous that maybe he didn’t like me the first night we met."
She needn't have worried. In the 2009 book "Peter Veldman, Dutch Immigrant, American Entrepreneur" by Andrea Midgett, Pete said “Meeting Wilma was, for me, as they say, love at first sight."
Their daughter Marcia Veldman chronicled the chance meeting in a song, "Love is the Bottom-Line," she co-wrote with Carrie Newcomer for Wilma's 80th birthday:
In 1944 at a clandestine dance
Handsome Petrus Veldman she met by chance.
He wore a pink shirt and brown shoes, a good man and fine
And love was the bottom-line.
Wilma and Pete were married on Aug. 30, 1952.
Soon after their wedding, Wilma joined Pete in the South Bend area, where they first lived and worked with the Sisters of St. Francis in Mishawaka. Later they moved to the west side of South Bend and operated a variety of businesses with Pete’s siblings.
In 1979, Pete and Wilma started the Tire Rack with their children, an e-commerce distributor of tires and wheels. All the while, Wilma took the lead in raising seven children and creating a welcoming home for extended family and friends. A life-long Notre Dame fan, Wilma also will be fondly remembered for her sense of humor, passion and generosity.
Wilma was born in The Netherlands on Jan. 22, 1927, in Vorden, Holland, to Albertus and Maria Zents.
In addition to her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by her daughter Audrey, granddaughter Allison Edmonds, and siblings Bertus Zents, Ans Zents, Riek Nyenhuis, Mary Nyenhuis and Jos Zents.
She is survived by children Thomas (Anita) Veldman, David (Linda) Veldman, Connie (Michael) Joines, Sharon (Matthew) Edmonds, Marcia Veldman and Mark (Nicole Schonemann) Veldman. Also surviving Wilma are 20 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Wilma and Pete were longtime, active parishioners of Holy Family Catholic Church and, later, Christ the King Catholic Church.
Visitation for Wilma will be at the Kaniewski Funeral Home, 3545 N. Bendix Drive, South Bend, Ind., on Thursday, Dec. 15, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, at Christ the King Catholic Church in South Bend.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Holy Cross Mission Center, P.O. Box 543, Notre Dame, IN 46556 or the Women’s Care Center, 360 N. Notre Dame Ave., South Bend, IN 46617.