CHEBOYGAN — Greg Hokans, a man known for working tirelessly to preserve the rich history of the Straits region, is also being remembered for his dedication to family, love of the outdoors and his sense of humor.
Hokans, 47, of Cheboygan, passed away Monday, Sept. 12, after losing his battle to cancer. His wife of 25 years, Melissa, and their two sons, Hans, 22, and Christian, 20, were by his side.
In 1998, Hokans began working for Mackinac State Historic Parks as the organization’s chief of development and marketing director. In his role, Hokans helped promote tourism throughout the Straits area, while also working to educate visitors about the region’s history.
“Greg was just one of those guys who is just a genuine person, very hardworking and dedicated and always willing to do whatever was needed,” said Phil Porter, director of Mackinac State Historic Parks. “He meant so much to this organization, and I know it meant so much to him.”
Hokans was born on April 1, 1964, in Green Bay, Wisc., and grew up in Ontonagon.
“Greg was all about family, he always has been,” said his wife, Melissa. “He was always so close to all his family members.”
In addition to being a devout Catholic, Hokans’ passions included running and downhill skiing. He also loved to hunt, something Melissa would joke with him about each fall.
“He loved to hunt — he looked forward to hunting camp every year and never missed a week in his life,” she said. “My birthday was opening day and he was never around for my birthday.”
His son, Hans, recently graduated from the University of Michigan and will be commissioned into the Air Force next month. Hans and his wife, Michelle, were married in June.
His son, Christian, is currently a junior at Michigan State University’s James Madison College.
“When people would ask who we would root for during an Michigan and Michigan State game, Greg would say, ‘We sit in the center because we’re Packers fans,’” Melissa recalled. “Greg was a lifelong Packers fan and I’m pretty sure he’s up in heaven right now training with Vince Lombardi.”
Hokans graduated from Northern Michigan University where he studied science, management and marketing.
That led him to jobs with the Western Upper Peninsula Convention and Visitors Bureau and also with the Marquette Country Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In August, after 13 years with Mackinac State Historic Parks, Hokans was honored with the organization’s Director’s Award for his lifetime of achievements with the organization.
Porter said Hokans created strong partnerships between the organization and many area business, and in turn, helped market businesses and tourism throughout the region.
“He will be missed greatly,” Porter said. “Greg leaves a legacy of a person with a great work ethic, and he was just a joy to work with because of his personality and commitment.”
“Greg loved his work with the Mackinac State Historic Parks and all the people he worked with. They were our family and they still are our family,” Melissa added. “He always said that if you love your job, you will never work another day in your life.”
Visitation for Greg Hokans will take place at 9 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 15, at St. Mary/St. Charles Catholic Church in Cheboygan, with the funeral service following at 11 a.m.