Gerald "Jerry" Park of East Lansing succumbed to complications from Parkinson's disease, an insidious thief that steals mobility and the ability to clearly speak what is on your very much still-functioning mind.
I knew Jerry as a reporter, as he extolled the benefits of having Harbor Springs and some other municipalities buy into the proposed nuclear power plant in Midland. I reported a forum held in Harbor where Jerry went head-to-head with Mary Sinclair, an anti-nuclear activist from Midland who really did not want the plant in her back yard.
Diana knew Jerry and his wife, Lois, through boating. One of Jerry's greatest pleasures was taking off in the summer with Lois on their boat, the Kama Bay, into the waters of Lake Superior and other parts of the Great Lakes.
Parkinson's robbed him of his ability to go boating, and he and Lois finally donated the Kama Bay to an organization in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina had destroyed their offices.
He had the summers off because he was a professor in the electrical engineering department at Michigan State University. Thus they knew him at Walstrom's as "Doc," and he used his electrical skills and amateur radio expertise to provide the best in electronics for the boaters at the marina.
Jerry and Lois own a cottage on Lower Shore Drive and in recent months they had been spending more and more time there rather than in East Lansing. We saw the two of them just before we headed west in December.
Jerry was intellectually curious, a lover of classical music who never got over the fact the outstate public broadcasting network wasn't set up by MSU rather than Central Michigan, a fan of Juilleret's and its whitefish and Big J Clubs, a reader who was current on the local, state, national and international news and an all-around good guy.
It was difficult seeing Parkinson's slow him down. Those who care for loved ones with the disease know it slowly but surely steals away independence.
And ultimately it steals life itself. Which is so sad.
Mick the local
Mick Heinz was a local Harbor boy, graduating in 1963 from good old Harbor High and a little later on, serving in the Army in Vietnam.
When he came home he embarked on years of service to his community. He joined the city's public works department rising to the post of supervisor and he stayed on for 30 years before he retired.
But that's not all that he gave to his community.
Little League coach and president. Flag football founder and coach. Boy Scout leader. Down box keeper at the football games with the chain gang. Member of the school board for eight years. Current and past member of the city council.
If that isn't a full life of giving to one's community, I don't know what would be.
Mick was easy with a smile and a chuckle, an outgoing personality that made him someone you'd like to be around even if you didn't see him all that often.
Many folks graduate from school and stick with their hometown, working and raising a family and just getting along. But there are very, very few who have the urge to do more, to contribute to the life of the community in a bigger way. Mick was one of those few.
Mayor Al Dika noted "I think he represented a part of the community that hadn't been represented for a long time. He represented the people that were raised here, went to school here, saw the development here and could remember back to when trains used to bring people up here. He knew the history of the town way better than I do."
City manager Tom Richards said, "I'm at a loss for words about Mick. He was very down-to-earth and a passionate person in terms of his care and respect for the community, and the values of the locals in the community. Just his commitment to the community in terms of an employee first, but also by helping to steer the ship by serving on council. It's just a very unusual thing, for someone to have that level of commitment to the community."
It was fitting that the VFW Post where his memorial service was held was packed to bursting. He was a special guy who deserved a special sendoff.
Kendall P. Stanley is retired editor of the Petoskey News-Review. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.