In Memoriam

December 11, 2020

Kathryn DePauw
Editor in Chief

Photo by Ann Hosler

The end of the year is a time for reflection and appreciation. In this spirit, this is the time to recognize the many people who have passed this year that made an impact on NMC. These are individuals who have taught, attended, or supported the college in some way. This list is doubtlessly incomplete, and it is important to recognize that those not listed were still a part of NMC’s history and a part of our community. So let us all take a moment to consider the lives and contributions of everyone listed (and not listed) who was lost this year.

Jacqueline “Jacky” Tompkins Weede passed away at the age of 90. She was a longtime business instructor and eventually became head of the department.

John Pahl, an NMC instructor for 48 years, passed away Sept. 20. In addition to teaching in the Communications department, he also coached NMC’s cross country and tennis teams. Pahl was an accomplished writer and served as the literary faculty adviser of NMC Magazine for many years.

Steve Ballance had a varied career at NMC. From 1971–2000, he worked as a photography instructor, served as head of the Art department, and also served as head of the Physical Education department. He also taught sailing to the Maritime students.

Jim Beckett served on the NMC Board of Trustees for decades and spent 32 years as the board chair. When he retired, he became an NMC Fellow and Emeritus Member of the NMC Foundation. The Beckett building is named after him to honor the years of service he paid to the institution and the community.

Mike Ascione, an NMC alumni, passed away in November. He was a prominent businessman in the area. Ascione was the president of American Waste, a company that grew from his father’s business, for almost 20 years.

George Beeby, an adjunct faculty member who taught business courses for 10 years, passed away in September.

John Hage, a Traverse City native, became an adjunct faculty member later in life. He taught in the Communications department, having previously been a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle. He passed away in July.

In addition to faculty and alumni, there were many generous donors who supported NMC and its students. Their spirit and commitment to community will continue to influence and inspire.

Greg Reisig had many connections to NMC and was an engaged community member and environmental activist. He was co-chair of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC), a local environmental group that supported NMC student groups like the GT Freshwater Society and the Green Team. He was also a donor to the NMC Foundation.

Other donors who passed away this year include:

  • Alvin Eckhardt - donor, alumni

  • Charles Forster - donor

  • James Gurd - donor

  • Paul Hurley - donor, alumni

  • Daniel Mahaney - donor, alumni

  • Douglas Noverr - donor

  • Helen Childs - donor

  • Clara McManus - donor

  • Clarine Olson - donor

Michigan Governor William G. Milliken

This past August, many members of the community attended a memorial service at the campus of Interlochen Center for the Arts. Attendees were there to celebrate former Michigan Governor William G. Milliken, a politician who reached across the aisle and was well-known for promoting civil rights, women’s rights, and environmental protections. His many environmental successes include the signing of the Environmental Protection Act, the Wetland Protection Act, expanding park programs, sand dune protections, controls on hazardous waste, and the creation of the Natural Resources Trust Fund.

Milliken had roots in northwestern lower Michigan that ran long and deep. He was born and raised in Traverse City and it was here that he fell in love with nature and public service. He graduated from Traverse City High School and worked at Milliken’s Department Store, founded by his grandfather, and served as president there for several years. He also served in World War II, flying 50 combat missions and surviving two crash landings. He was a well-decorated soldier, eventually receiving seven military honors, including the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.

Before serving as governor of Michigan from 1969 to 1983, he was an active member of the NMC community. He served on the NMC Board of Trustees from 1957–1961. He spoke at the 1956 graduation ceremony in front of the library. In 1965 Milliken became a “Fellow of Northwestern Michigan College,” the notation reading, “His service as a citizen and as a member of the Board of Trustees in shaping the direction and goals of Northwestern Michigan College. As a distinguished public servant, his keen interest in educational excellence continues to inspire high achievement by others.” The governor helped steer the college to where it is today—a strong liberal arts college, with a focus on local needs, service to others, and the environment.

Eventually, his career took him downstate but he returned to his hometown whenever possible. Gov. Milliken passed away on Oct. 18, 2019 in Traverse City, in the home that he built 60 years ago. He was 97 years old.

On Sept. 4, 2020, members of the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) and NMC president, Nick Nissley, gathered to plant memorial pine trees on NMC’s campus. They met at the Dennos Museum and placed the trees among the campus’s famous white pine forest. The pine trees have long been a symbol of NMC, and Gov. Milliken’s middle name was Grawn, which in Swedish means pine tree. The saplings represent the ideals of both: community, education, and the environmental protection. A legacy that one can only hope will continue to grow.

Photo by Nick Moug

NMC President Dr. Nissley and NMEAC planted trees on NMC’s main campus in honor of the late Governor Milliken.

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