Covell Funeral Home


William Alexander Rennie

October 26, 1942December 23, 2020

William Alexander (Sandy) Rennie October 26, 1942 - December 23, 2020

On a wintry October morning a little boy was born to William M. Rennie and Inez J. (Kratochvil) Rennie; both from pioneer families. The country doctor was called to the big house on the hill to attend the delivery. His father announced that he would be called Sandy, and it has been Sandy ever since. It was pretty much understood early on that Sandy would follow his father's footsteps to become a farmer, so a life of hard work began. After years of working together, his parents were able to retire, and Sandy carried on the daily tasks of the farm. Although Sandy could be a “prankster” as the younger brother, he was an ideal son. Sandy attended Elk Rapids Schools all his life, except for a year at Williamsburg. He attended Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University where he studied agriculture. Sandy was well liked in school and remained good friends with many classmates to this day. Sandy eventually met the girl of his dreams, Linda Marie Arntson. They were married on September 11, 1971. They welcomed Amy and later Matthew into their lives. On February 12, 2013, Linda passed away due to cancer, leaving him to grieve while raising two grandsons. He prayed each night with his grandsons, assuring them that they were loved by God, and were prayed for by friends and family. Making a living as a farmer is very challenging. He opened the u-pick for cherries and then apples. His fruit was top notch. People from all around came and he took great pride in making it an experience they would remember for a long time. He and Linda created a fall setting with a tepee, pumpkins, maze and corn shocks. Hundreds come to enjoy the freedom of roaming the grounds and taking pictures. School children arrived from miles around each fall for the famous Rennie Orchard's tour. They learned the proper way to pick an apple, and then they got to keep it. He loved telling them all about apples, many times including the story of Johnny Appleseed. Sandy loved greeting the visitors. “Where are you from?” he would ask all who visited him. It didn't matter to him whether you were a first-time visitor or had been coming for years. He loved each and every one. He believed in and followed the Golden Rule. Sandy was a “true” Rennie, he liked to tell a tale. Their dictionary somehow omitted the words “condense” and “summarize.” After all, that would diminish the story. Tradition was a big part of his life, each year joining his grandchildren on their rides during Harbor Days. He was happy and proud to have lots and lots of tickets, so that they could have a good time. He could be seen early in the afternoon in his famous straw hat, blanket under his arm, trudging to the little knoll by the harbor to reserve a special spot to watch the fireworks with his family, continuing on as he and Linda had done. Sandy was never bored as his interests were many. He loved sports and was a loyal fan, especially his Alma Mater Michigan State. He loved deer hunting, and shot his last buck just this fall. We thank God for sharing this good and pure soul with our family and his many friends. He has been called back home. Some have said that the line at the Pearly Gates might be held up for a while, as Sandy was engaged with St. Peter in conversation. Sandy leaves behind two children, Amy Rennie-Wood, and Matthew Rennie, grandchildren Adriana and Kieran Falicki, Bristol Wood, Johnathon Rennie, Matthew Rennie, Journey Rennie and a sister Alice Roleen (Marvin) Carpenter, sisters-in-law Deanna Arntson and Christine (Thomas) Fulger, as well as his loyal and long-time employees; Joelle Wrobel-Feenstra, Martin Chimeo, Blackie Alvarez, and Steve Fromage and many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends. He was predeceased by his parents, his wife Linda, and his brother Robert. As soon as it is safe to congregate, a celebration of life will be held at Rennie Orchards to honor his great life. Memorial Donations in Sandy's name can be made to Acme Christian Thrift Store (ACTS) Food Pantry, 8925 Route 72 E., Williamsburg, Michigan 49690. Also, should you care to contribute to the celebration for Sandy, send them to: Roleen Carpenter, P.O. 433, Elk Rapids, MI 49629. Make checks payable to Roleen Carpenter.


William Alexander Rennie

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Darren Schlegel

January 11, 2021

Working at olesons as a produce manager for the last 22 years i had the pleasure of dealing with sandy and his honeycrisp apples. He was quite the talker everytime he delivered and always had good conversation even when my wolverines would beat his spartans and vice versa. When his wife linda was in the hospital with cancer i did not realize at the time that she was in the same room my mother was when she had cancer so we were able to encourage one another during that difficult time as well.....he will be missed my prayers with the family and all the employees who have and had worked for him

Linda Samalik (Carpenter)

January 6, 2021

My Uncle Sandy’s eternal optimism and genuine love for people was apparent to everyone lucky enough to have known or have met him. His generosity, kindness, loyalty, and gentle spirit was like a warm blanket you could never imagine being without. I never heard him utter a harsh word to anyone. That was his nature. He possessed the unique ability to make everyone feel relevant. He was young at heart and had a way with young people. As children my sister and I always looked forward to his stories of lessons in life, and his coaxing us to dance along to his guitar playing. He was always ready to join us in any games and would usually win. When I got older and moved away, a visit home was not complete unless it included going to the farm to visit my favorite Uncle. His communication skills were extraordinary. He always had stories that were fascinating and often made your face cramp from laughing.
His path in life touched countless individuals who visited the farm. They all would leave with an indelible smile not only on their face, but also in their hearts. His extensive knowledge of the agricultural industry, in combination with his deep love for the land, became the cornerstone of what has become widely regarded as one of the top orchards in the country. My husband John and I made a trip to the farm in October, in what would be our last visit with Uncle Sandy. The fall farm festivities were in full swing. Uncle Sandy, wearing his ever-present straw hat, was the picture of the true meaning of life: unbridled joy and love for life.
We will miss you forever and will never forget you Uncle Sandy. The smile you placed in our hearts is permanently engrained and ever- present.

Amy Rennie-Wood

January 3, 2021

My dad was truly a special soul, and I am so proud of having the privilege of knowing someone who has made such a positive impact on so many people. As I try to come to terms with his loss, I am reminded of the little things that continue to make such an impact on me.
He used to play his acoustic guitar when I was really small, playing and singing songs to me, ranging from John Denver, to the Stones. Late night trips home from high school away basketball and football games. Multiple trips down our driveway and our dirt road when he was teaching me to ride my bike. (I was discouraged and he would not let me give up despite how much I think his back hurt from holding my bike steady). Playing "pig" in the barn, and he would usually beat me. His amazing stories; the story of the blue marble he always loved to tell. Glorious tales from his high school and college days will always make me chuckle. (Recently he had told me how he had managed to launch himself over a creek in the winter, in socks, shocking the rest of his group).
He loved us and mom so much. He loved his grandkids furiously. And he loved the farm and everyone that came to visit there. Watching him during school field trips was magical, as he was so excited to share with children something he loved and put his entire heart and soul into. Dad, I will miss you with everything inside me, every single day. This doesn't feel real. I love you so much.


Jennifer therese Poat

January 2, 2021

I remember my great uncle with a perpetual spark in his eyes and a smile always at the ready. As a child he seemed to me to have boundless energy and time to warmly greet everyone. Whether new to the farm or an old friend, uncle Sandy was a kind host ready with a new story and a tour of the farm. My sisters, cousins and I would sit under the big shade trees in front of the farm house, eating cherries and listening to his adventures until we were dripping with cherry juice and planning our yearly run through the rows of fruit trees. We'd explore every inch of our patch of heaven; down the lane to the teepee, over to greet the cows, to inspect the 'quick sand' pond, then to the forest to find the open garden space my mother called eden.
Uncle Sandy kept our history alive for me. His mother, my great grandmother, told us about my great great relatives' immigration to the US, our logging history, and our relationship with the local tribes. But uncle Sandy added texture to the details with small antidotes and funny outcomes fit for a child's imagination. My cousin's personal favorite was of the 2 headed calf.
Life continues, and I moved away expecting him to have forgotten about me. But when I dropped by in 2016 he remembered me, knew about my life since the farm days, and greeted me so warmly that I was momentarily brought back to my childhood. He even brought up my proudest achievement with praise and questions.
My heritage from uncle Sandy was our history that lives through my memories, and the stubborn belief that no matter what else happens in life, all will be ok with a little stroll through time. I love you and miss you, uncle Sandy. And I'll never forget.

Jarek Choike

January 1, 2021

I worked for Sandy on the farm around 1987 if I remember correctly. I learned a lot about orchard care, farm machinery and hard work from Sandy. It was technically my first "real job" I'll never forget the laughs we had after cleaning and detailing the old Flatbed Ford tank hauler. I cleaned and detailed the interior including Armor All on the smooth vinyl bench seat. Sandy was a short guy and had to kind of jump up off the ground to get into the truck and when he did, he slid all the way to the passenger door and almost fell off the seat. We were all laughing so hard, including Sandy. Thanks for the life lessons Sandy.

Bob Rennie

December 30, 2020

When I was a teenager, Uncle Sandy would run his speed boat on Elk lake. I remember seeing the engine in his boat. It was huge! That machine could really move! As kids; it was our great day whenever we had a chance to visit Sandy's farm and orchard. It was such a big place to explore! We always looked forward to visiting. Such nice folks! Sandy and his family bring many fond memories. He was greatly cherished and will be missed by many!
Bob Rennie, Cosmopolis, WA.

Nikki Grockau

December 30, 2020

We have visited the orchard many times and always enjoyed it. With cub scouts, and class trips and as a family. But one time my sons class had a long anticipated field trip planned to Rennie orchard and the bus was broken so they couldn’t make it. Mr Rennie loaded up apples and pumpkins for all the kids and brought them to the school along with his storytelling. I will never forget how that made the kids smile. He was a truly beautiful sole.

Gary Twardowski

December 30, 2020

I didn't know Sandy well, but when he wasn't working he would come over to Joe Makowski house every once in a while to join in on our Wednesday night
games of backgammon and horse shoes. Sandy brought plenty of laughs and was an all around good guy.
Gets some rest Sandy, you deserve it.

Marie Chaon

December 30, 2020

We will always remember our trip to Rennie Orchards while we were vacationing in Michigan. We loved picking cherries there. We have enjoyed the email updates and pictures that Farmer Sandy posted. We are sorry for your loss. We will pray that your family is comforted with peace and love. Cherish memories of time spent with Farmer Sandy.
Don & Marie
Cedar Rapids, IA

Ron Popp

December 29, 2020

I was lucky enough to work for Bill, Inez, Sandy and Linda as many other local youngsters did. The lessons learned were as bountiful as the stories told and are carried with us today. Sandy was a positive influence on our community and will be missed.