Jack Balchik, of Petoskey, died Jan. 1, 2012, at home surrounded by his family.
On March 26, 1949, John and Mary Balchik were blessed with their first born, John Joseph Balchik, better known to us as "Jack." He was born in Detroit, Mich., though their family lived in Albion, Mich., at that time. At a very early age, he developed his love of all nature and the outdoors by accompanying his father in the woods, but most especially on the water, learning the art of fly fishing when just a small boy. His love for fishing, hunting and learning everything he could about our great outdoors became his passion. He generously passed this passion and knowledge to each of his children and grandchildren. He loved spending time with them at their beloved family cabin in Ellsworth, Mich., teaching them and sharing all he knew about the outdoors and nature.
He proudly told of his beginnings as being a "country boy." He attended a one-room country schoolhouse through the eighth grade. His parents then moved to Jackson, Mich., to provide him a better education. He attended St. John's Catholic High School.
In 1968, he met Marisa Craig, his first love, and they were married in 1973. The first thing they did in starting their new life together was to move north, where Jack and Risa started their new home in Petoskey. God blessed them with three children, Andy, Anna and Aleece. They all grew to love this area and became deeply imbedded in the community through their church, school, and many, many friends. They loved their life together here and showed their happiness and love to so many people. They shared themselves and thus were loved back by all.
In the year 2000, everything changed for the Balchik family when Risa was stricken with cancer and died in August of 2002. It took so much strength, faith and courage for the family to continue on but they had deep faith and God walked with them and continued to walk with them on this journey of life.
Jack met Nancy Whitley in January of 2004 and life once again took a new turn no one expected. They fell in love and were married on June 17, 2005, in St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church. Nancy had also lost her husband of 30 years, Jigs Whitley, to cancer. Their love story of finding each other and becoming man and wife made everyone that knew them so happy. It was such a wondrous feeling to find happiness again and share it with so many.
Jack's family was the absolute real love and passion of his life. He loved them deeply and would always put them first.
His parents, John and Mary, preceded him in death. He leaves behind his wife, Nancy; three brothers; Tom (Brenda), Mark ( Nancy) and Mike ( Joy), his children, Andy (Judy) Balchik, Anna (Ben) Walker, and Aleece Balchik; his stepchildren, Jessica, Ben and Luke; his grandchildren, John Balchik, Adrianne Balchik, Kalvin Walker, Maya Whitley, Kai Whitley and Enzo Bertinelli.
Jack worked for many years at the Emmet County Sheriff's department on the Marine Division and most of his years as Animal Control Officer. He was greatly respected throughout the county for the work he did. His Emmet County co-workers have been totally supportive and have bestowed many kindnesses to Jack and his family beyond the call of duty.
A celebration of Jack's life will start with a visitation 10-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, at St. Francis Xavier Church with funeral Mass immediately following.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Jack's name can be directed to The Good Samaritan or Front Porch Ministries in Ellsworth, Mich., or to Emmet County Memorial Fund to help families in need.
Arrangements were handled by Stone Funeral Home, Petoskey. Friends and family can offer online condolences at www.stonefuneralhomeinc.com.