Marion J. Dittenbir, age 89, passed away on Sunday, September 27, 2020 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Marion was born on May 7, 1931 in Au Gres, Michigan the son of John and Nellie (Park) Dittenbir. The second of six children, he was christened “Sonny” by a neighbor when just a few days old and he forever embraced that nickname. Marion was preceded in his passing by the love of his life Carol (Abel) Dittenbir in 2010, having been together for fifty-three years. Left to cherish his loving memory are his children: Mark (Susan Chin) Dittenbir, Chris (Kathy) Dittenbir, and Jeanine Dittenbir; and his grandchildren: Jon and Lia Dittenbir, Zachariah Dittenbir, and Alex Pastrick and Marina Harvey.
Marion was born and raised on his family crop and dairy farm in Au Gres, MI. At age 28, he took a good farmer’s qualities of resourcefulness, an ability to nurture and a sturdy work ethic to a new life at Point Lookout, MI. The residents there benefitted from his tireless and principled efforts constructing, repairing, replacing and maintaining essentially any household’s or property’s needs. In 1971, using bits of time outside his always full schedule, he built a tasteful family home. It's construction was an effort of love in which his hand touched virtually every brick, block, pipe, wire, and board. That project exemplified Sonny’s mastery of the self-acquired trade skills he applied in his duties at “The Point”.
He possessed a true gift for storytelling. An infinite and unerring memory allowed him to fill-in and color his stories – whether comic, tragic or otherwise – so they were pictures or movies, rather than simply spoken words. Without doubt, a treasured knowledge of Au Gres and Point Lookout history has been lost with Marion’s passing. When others had questions, Marion generously gave his time and his knowledge. Even though his adolescent farm obligations left him one credit short of a high school diploma, he was a master teacher.
He and Carol enjoyed various domestic US travels and a trip to Europe. That Marion had to be pried off the beaches of Normandy long after the sun had set says something about his core. Marion enjoyed the typical activities and pastimes of northern Michigan and lakeside living, but his personal needs were simple (e.g. perch are better eating than walleye). He was most satisfied enabling and relishing the accomplishments and major life events of his children. He also loved being a “good grandpa” and the joy which was reciprocated. Marion mourned Carol every minute after her passing, but he continued to be nourished by his life and relationships at the Point. He also took up bike riding, which is an indelible image of him for many. He continued to live a life of purpose and worked until July 2020 when, at age 89, illness forced him to stop.
Sonny was also a moose hunter……but that is another story.
Marion’s family feels so fortunate to have had a father who is now so worthy of grieving. He was a fixture at Point Lookout and truly a foundation supporting so many folks lives there. In his typical humble fashion, he requested that no funeral or memorial service be held. Please celebrate him in your individual way. If there is a toast involved - make it a beer, but just one.
In lieu of flowers or other memorials please consider a donation to the Arenac County Historical Society which is housed in Au Gres https://www.arenachistory.org/join/index.htm. There is not an on-line donation option. Please mail your gift to: Treasurer, Arenac County Historical Society, P.O. Box 272, Au Gres, Michigan 48703-0272. The Arenac County Historical Society is a Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Organization.
Donations to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation can also be considered. Follow the “Donate Online“ tab at this link: https://cholangiocarcinoma.org/donate/
Please visit Marion's webpage at www.avinkcremation.com and help memorialize him by signing the guestbook, lighting a candle, and/or sharing a memory with the family. The more stories the better.
The family is being assisted by Avink Funeral Home & Cremation Society, 129 S. Grand, Schoolcraft, MI 49087 (269)679-5622.