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Good-bye Cedar Springs Post

By Lois Allen

Our first edition from 1988.

There has been a steady decline of local newspapers since The Cedar Springs Post was created in 1988. Back then everyone was on the same pages. If they wanted to know what was going on in their community, they picked up the local newspaper. Local journalists are disappearing across the country, creating what is known as news deserts. The local paper is the collateral damage of the new largely unregulated social media and internet software controlled take-over of our lives.

As creator and publisher of The Post it is my regret and duty to tell you, a Post reader, that The Cedar Springs Post will be publishing its last issue. We have just enough money in our bank account to produce this week, but it does not look good for next week.

As hard as it is to close, we don’t want our readers to wonder, “Where’s the Post and why isn’t it here?” So I’m letting everyone know. There will be no papers in our 60 plus newsstands, and no online version to view.

There’s a battle going on. It’s a battle for your attention, your business and your money. So, there is no shortage of advertising, just in the local paper.

People often say we should just charge for it, but it isn’t that simple. Postage for a year of mailing is over $40 now. Every publication, including cable, TV, magazines, as well as sporting events, even NPR, which is listener supported, need advertising dollars to survive. And we need it too.

Expenses run about $3,000 weekly with payroll for five employees at around $1,500 or more depending on hours. Printing a 16 page paper is about $800 for 3,000 copies. Then there is insurance, payroll taxes, internet, phone, software, hardware, lights, heat, water bill and other misc expenses.

Someone once said, “All good things come to an end.” Why? For nearly three and a half decades, The Post has been all things Cedar Springs. Its pages were an example of the kind of community we are and the people who live here. 

In these super stressful and uncertain times, it’s nice to be able to read something low-tech that is already downloaded and printed for you without having to log on, create a username, and then a password or any other personal information. You can read it privately. You don’t have to negotiate software or even need electricity! And I guarantee you it won’t crash.

We know you appreciate us and are thankful for the support, donations, and wonderful comments on our go-fund-me campaign that we started last February. We were able, with your help, to continue to publish for an additional six months! Thank you! I was so uplifted that I matched the donations and contributed $6,000 of my own savings to keep us running.

Thirty-four years is not a bad run for an independently owned community paper in a rural area that my dad told me would not succeed. “Cedar Springs can’t afford a newspaper,” he told me. But he was wrong for three and a half decades. I saw growth. I believed the paper would grow with the community. I believed it had great potential. But then shoppers were created. Shoppers were newspapers without journalists. They could print more and sell cheaper advertising because they didn’t have to use space and money for stories (papers don’t make money on stories). And then came the internet and social media and new software programs designed to get your attention—and money.

Every year The Post printed a tax page for our local tax preparers along with tax tips for the year. This year there were no tax preparer ads at all. I like to shop local so I shop the newspaper when I need a plumber, an electrician, a roofer, haircut, tax consultant or any other local services and goods. But they are not there. They don’t need us anymore. 

The paper worked hard to be a valuable service for our residents. The Post helped to reunite hundreds of pets with their owners when they came up missing or were found. All you had to do was call, and at no charge. Now there are several websites for that.

Each week we run animals for adoption in our “pet of the week” for the Humane Society without charge, but could never get a veterinarian to sponsor it. If you wanted to meet new friends and give to a local cause, you could find it in our Hometown Happenings for our non-profit organizations. We had support to run festival schedules for area festivals so you didn’t have to find a brochure ‘cause it was in the paper. Honor rolls for Cedar Springs Schools were possible because the businesses stepped up and sponsored them and we’re grateful for that for sure.

I’ve spent literally half my life keeping this little newspaper in Cedar Springs alive. It feels like the loss of a loved one. With its loss, we lose a tiny piece of democracy. The world is sooo crazy now, the paper was a slice of sanity thanks to our great editor, Judy Reed. It looks awesome because of our talented graphic designer, Belinda Sanderson and it ran smoothly because of our office manager and our rock, Mary Randall. The sales we have are because of our ever cheerful sales rep, Marybeth Ford and it was always in the newsstands every Thursday because of our very dependable delivery guy, Dan Randall. And also, Waldo, our official feline greeter. I know it will be missed greatly.

A local paper was the perfect place to shop local because it was affordable to all small businesses who don’t have the financial means to advertise like the large national corporations. Big corporate wants 200,000 views, not just 20,000. And when local businesses ran their ads in the paper, they were surrounded by exclusive news stories, local people, your neighbors and friends. Children were celebrated for their accomplishments and constructive projects, giving them a sense of pride.

We have had loyal advertisers that have kept us going for many years. Like Larry’s Northtown of Greenville and Ray Winnie Auto, also in Greenville, Sparta Chevy in Sparta, Northend Tire in Cedar Springs, Robinson’s Septic, Kelly’s Restaurant, The Cedar Springs Brewery, Intandem Credit Union (formally Kent County Credit Union), Creative Technologies Academy, Cedar Springs Public Schools, and so many more that have stepped up to support the newspaper. 

But there has been a steady decline of advertisers as prices for everything rises. Smaller businesses are struggling, just like us. It’s been hard to watch the paper grow thinner, running a skeleton crew and struggling to meet expenses. It is sad, and a little scary too. How to find the truth? Who to believe? It’s so confusing now.

But we will leave a legacy. Our paper is bound into hardcover for each year we publish and then donated to the Cedar Springs Historical Society. Our legacy will show a community where everyone gets along and pulls together to make this a better place to live, work and play.

We love you Cedar Springs.

Front of The POST building from 2015.

Publisher note: Email from Donald Hamblin, April 13, 2022

Hi, thank you so much for the article in Hometown Happenings. We had tried several other avenues with no success in getting the word out regarding pickle ball at Magnify Church, but because of this article we had several new people come that turned our evening into a success. Best 10 bucks ever… We were actually thinking about discontinuing the games, but the picture is completely changed due to this article.

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Get your RED on!

The bed races are back! Come out this Saturday to have some fun! 

By Judy Reed

Break out those red flannel long johns, granny gowns, lumberjack hats or whatever you have that’s RED because Red Flannel fun is heading your way!

The 83rd annual Red Flannel Festival—one of the oldest festivals in Michigan—starts this week. This year’s theme is “Cheers to 83 years” and the logo was created by Erica Wiley. 

This Saturday’s events include the 5K run/walk, kids day in the Heart of Cedar Springs Park, the bed races, lumberjack dinner, and the Red Flannel Queen Scholarship Pageant. Next weekend (Sept. 30-Oct. 1) will include even more great events, with the firefighter parade, marching band competition, pie eating contest, car show, tractor pull, carnival, Rotary chicken barbecue, grand parade and more! A special attraction this year will be the Scottville Clown Band, appearing in both the parade and afterward at the amphitheater in the Heart of Cedar Springs. Be sure to come out and see them! There will be lots of fun things you won’t want to miss, so be sure to check out the entire schedule and details by clicking link below.


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Library benefits from Eagle Scout project

Dominic Pellerito and the bookshelves he made for the Cedar Springs Public Library for his Eagle Scout project.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Public Library was recently the recipient of a set of bookshelves thanks to the Eagle Project constructed by high school senior Dominic Pellerito.

Dominic, 17, the son of Craig and Leah Pellerito of Solon Township, has been in Boy Scouts for 10 years, and he needed to come up with a project to put toward earning his Eagle Scout award—the highest award in Scouts BSA. It’s earned by young people who work their way through the Scouts BSA ranks, earn at least 21 merit badges, hold leadership positions in their unit, and plan and lead a service project.

Not an easy task for a teen, especially one as busy as Dominic, who not only works but is involved in Marching Band, Scouts, Early Middle College and in the play at the school.

So how did he decide what to do for his project?

Dominic Pellerito working on his project.

“Mr. Tom Noreen suggested the project to me because he knew the library needed some shelves built,” explained Dominic.

Dominic gets a little help from his friends on his Eagle Scout project.

But he didn’t do it on his own. “I did the project with the help of fellow scouts Nolan Russo, Ethan Hess, Dominic Vanderhyde, Noah Kaston and Ben Barber. My dad also helped a lot!” he said.

It was a good learning experience for Dominic, and he was pleased with the way they turned out.

“I was very unsure about the project at first. I don’t have a lot of experience building things and they were much bigger than I assumed they would be, and it took more time than I originally thought,” he explained. “After putting it the extra work I was very happy with the final project, and happy to get a positive response from the library as well. I’m glad I could help them, and it was fun to work with my fellow scouts and friends, and my dad.”

Congratulations, Dominic, on a job well done! 

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Man riding moped injured in hit and run

A car resembling the one in the photo hit a man on a moped and then left the scene earlier this week. The vehicle has since been located.

Earlier this week, a man riding a moped was critically injured when a car traveling in the same direction struck him and then fled.

According to the Michigan State Police Lakeview Post, the incident occurred in Fairplain Township, Montcalm County, on Monday, September 19, about 11:32 p.m. They said that a 44-year-old man from Sheridan was traveling eastbound on Fenwick Rd near Brown Rd when the moped was struck by a vehicle traveling in the same direction. The vehicle, described as a maroon-colored sedan, fled the scene, and the 44-year-old man was transported to a local hospital in critical condition.

The MSP asked for help from the public to find the vehicle, which they said was likely a 2006-2013 Chevrolet Impala. 

On Wednesday, September 21, MSP reported that the driver and vehicle have been identified and are cooperating with troopers. “The crash remains under investigation and will be forwarded to the prosecutor upon completion. Thank you to everyone who called in tips!” said MSP Sixth District Public Information Officer Spl/Lt. Michelle Robinson.

Troopers at the crash scene were assisted by Montcalm County EMS, Montcalm County Central Dispatch, and the Michigan State Police Traffic Reconstruction Unit.

Anyone with information on the crash or vehicle is asked to contact the MSP Lakeview Post at 989-352-8444.

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A little “Hocus Pocus” at the library

Kids and adults alike had fun at the library’s Hocus Pocus watch party.

Patrons at the Cedar Springs Public Library were spellbound this past Monday, September 19, at the Library’s Hocus Pocus Watch Party. 

The 19 children and adults that attended were able to make their very own Hocus Pocus potion drinks consisting of children’s tears (sprite); dragon’s blood (pineapple juice; goblin guts (lime sherbert); pig eyeballs (grapes); earth worms (gummy worms); and snake venom (lime juice).  

Attendees then got comfy, snuggled into blankets, and devoured delicious popcorn while watching Hocus Pocus. The event got them prepared for Hocus Pocus 2, which is set to release later this month.  Some patrons even came dressed as the Sanderson sisters—Winifred, Mary and Sarah. What a glorious evening it was.

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VA, MVAA partner to offer Michigan veterans direct assistance Oct. 4-6

The VA is partnering with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and other veteran organizations to hold its second Veterans Experience Action Center (VEAC) next month—a three-day virtual event during which Michigan veterans can receive direct assistance to get the benefits they earned for their service.

The event will be Tuesday through Thursday, Oct. 4-6, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. ET each day.

At the VEAC, veterans receive one-on-one personalized assistance for VA benefits, VA health care, crisis resources, memorial affairs, community services and peer-to-peer connection. Veterans and their family members, service members, caregivers and survivors select their preferred date and time and then make an appointment online to connect to the VEAC. A local Veteran Service Officer initiates the appointment by calling the registrant. The appointment is executed over the phone in a virtual environment. Please expect to be transferred to VA experts and community partners as we work to address and meet your needs. Veterans who attend these events often leave enrolled in VA and other resources. Over 94 percent recommend these events to other veterans.

Register for the Michigan VEAC at this VA websit:. https://book.appointment-plus.com/ck3047g2/#/

At the first Michigan VEAC, held in October 2021, more than 600 appointments with veterans were booked.

Other supporters of the VEAC events include the Michigan Veterans Coalition and county-level Veteran Affairs offices.

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Final Adopt-A-Highway cleanup coming Saturday

LANSING, Mich.—Before the leaves start to turn and fall, thousands of Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Adopt-A-Highway volunteers will fan out across the state to collect litter along highway roadsides from Saturday, Sept. 24, through Sunday, Oct. 2.

This is the third and final scheduled pickup period of the year.

Every year, Adopt-A-Highway volunteers regularly collect more than 60,000 bags of trash. The popular program began in Michigan in 1990 and has grown to involve more than 2,900 groups cleaning more than 6,000 miles of highway.

Motorists should be on the lookout for the groups as the clean the roadsides beginning Saturday. When working in a highway right of way, Adopt-A-Highway volunteers wear high-visibility, yellow-green safety vests required by federal regulations. MDOT provides free vests and trash bags, and arranges to haul away the trash.

Getting involved in the program is straightforward. Volunteers include members of civic groups, businesses, and families. Crew members have to be at least 12 years old, and each group must include at least three people. Groups are asked to adopt a section of highway for at least two years. There is no fee to participate. Adopt-A-Highway signs bearing group names are posted along the stretches of adopted highway.

Sections of highway are available for adoption all over the state. Interested groups can get more information on joining the program at www.Michigan.gov/AdoptAHighway.

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Man sentenced to 5 years for defrauding U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Joseph Scott Gray, 53, of Lawton, Michigan was sentenced to five years in federal prison last week for lying to the Department of Veterans Affairs to obtain over $250,000 in benefits to which he was not entitled. To obtain those benefits, Gray repeatedly told the VA he could not walk or stand, when in fact, he could.

According to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for Western Michigan, Gray went to the Battle Creek VA Medical Center for an exam, on October 26, 2017, and he arrived in a wheelchair (see photo).

During the exam, Gray reportedly told VA employees he had not walked in 10 years and could not use his left hand. They said that minutes later, Gray went to a local restaurant, where he was observed freely walking in and out of the building and carrying his leftovers in his left hand (see photo).

Gray was convicted by a federal jury of four counts: engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the government; providing false statements to the VA; theft of government funds; and presenting a false, fictitious, or fraudulent claim for benefits. After trial, the Court found that Gray committed perjury by falsely testifying that his medication caused him lie to VA employees and that his medication caused him to go from being unable to walk one minute to able to walk the next. The Court also found that Gray falsely testified that it was his brother, not him, in videos from a local feed store in which Gray was seen walking freely and carrying a 40 – 50 lb. bag of cat food.

In sentencing Gray to five years in prison, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Jonker explained that a significant sentence of incarceration was necessary because Gray’s fraud spanned 15 years and involved blatant lies to both the VA and the jury. Judge Jonker also noted Gray obstructed justice in this case by committing perjury, and he obstructed justice in a previous federal case by threatening a witness. In 2011, Gray was sentenced to 27 months in prison after a jury convicted him of engaging in the unlicensed sale of firearms between October 15, 2008 and July 31, 2009 from his Lawton sporting-goods store, 101 Outdoors.

U.S. Attorney Mark Totten stated, “Our nation has an obligation to care for our veterans and we must ensure they receive the medical care and disability benefits they need and deserve. Those who lie and fraudulently obtain VA benefits they are not entitled to receive not only steal from American taxpayers but from the veterans who served in defense of our country. My office will fight to protect VA benefits for those in genuine need of treatment and support.”

“Misrepresenting symptoms to the VA to fraudulently obtain benefits takes resources from deserving veterans and will not be tolerated,” said Special Agent in Charge Gregory Billingsley with the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Central Field Office. “The VA OIG will continue to vigorously investigate those who would steal from VA benefits programs and taxpayers.”

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Davin Reust and Lauren Biksacky prosecuted the case.

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Partnership with Italian authorities leads to artwork return

Items that appeared online had been removed from Italy decades earlier

From the FBI

Two Italian tapestries—one depicting a noble coat of arms and the other depicting the “return of the Ark of the Covenant”—were returned to Italy after being tracked by the FBI in the U.S.

The FBI’s Italian counterparts, known as the Carabinieri, regularly search for Italian art and cultural property that has been taken out of the country—sometimes many decades ago.

Recently, the Carabinieri’s Tutela Patrimonio Culturale (TPC), which translates to Protection of Cultural Heritage, discovered several pieces of historical art that had been thought lost forever.

16th Century Tapestries

Last year, an online publication featured a restored historical home in Florida. One of the photos showed a 16th century tapestry—missing since it was stolen in 1995. The Italians flagged the photo for the FBI’s liaison in Rome, as they believed the piece rightfully belonged to Italy.

“The Italian government and the U.S. government work very closely on art crime matters, and we’ve been doing so for years,” said Special Agent Marc Gervasi of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, who worked this case. “We’ve had a lot of success in repatriating items stolen from Italy, and Italy helps the FBI with investigations in significant ways.”

Gervasi and his colleagues approached the owner, who had bought the tapestry 22 years prior, and explained that the piece belonged to Italy. It had been stolen before the current owner bought it. The owner graciously agreed to return it.

Considering the owner purchased the piece for $27,000, it was no small sacrifice.

“They could’ve said talk to my attorney, or Italy can talk to my attorney,” Gervasi said. “It could’ve been a battle, but they chose to help law enforcement. They really wanted it to go back to the original owner.”

Similarly, the FBI’s Miami Field Office learned in May that a gallery in Jacksonville had another Italian tapestry, also believed to be from the 16th century, for sale on their website.

It had been stolen from the same gallery in Milan, Italy, in 1995. It entered the legitimate art market sometime after that and was sold for $55,000 in 2003.

Neither the gallery owner nor the homeowner had the provenance, or the ownership history, of the tapestries.

“Requesting a provenance on a piece of art can help the buyer determine the veracity and history the art,” Gervasi said. “If a seller cannot provide a provenance, the buyer should consider if they want to continue with that purchase.”

The gallery, upon learning of the history of the tapestry agreed to turn it over. “The gallery owner showed us the tapestry and said it was his favorite piece in the gallery. He had an emotional attachment to it,” Gervasi said.

By June, the FBI had the second tapestry.

Both tapestries, along with several other pieces of Italian art that the FBI had helped track down in the U.S., were then returned.

Historic Gold Coins

This gold coin was nearly sold at a Philadelphia auction house, but the FBI intervened and ensured its safe return to Italy.

In 1977, 6,000 gold coins were stolen from the National Archeological Museum in Naples, Italy, as part of a massive art heist.

Decades later, in 2021, the Carabinieri TPC spotted one of the coins for sale at a Philadelphia auction house. The coin depicts the head of Nero, the fifth emperor of Rome.

The longstanding partnership among the FBI, the local U.S. attorney’s office, and the Italian investigators meant the Italian authorities got the FBI all the information they needed to reach out to the owner before the coin could be sold.

The back of an Italian gold coin depicting Nero, the fifth emperor of Rome.

The FBI worked with the person who was trying to sell the coin and the auction house to take custody of it and return it back to Italy.

“Without their cooperation and their assistance, we wouldn’t have had this successful repatriation,” said Special Agent Jake Archer of the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Office, who investigated the gold coin matter.

Archer said it was important to return the coin to Italy where it belonged, given that it’s part of Italy’s cultural history dating back to 61 AD.

“These are important pieces of our collective past,” he said. “The coins tell an important story about history and culture. Each one has its own individual story.”

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Philip “Tete” Hallock age 79 of Cedar Springs died Thursday, September 15, 2022 at home surrounded by his family and joined Kay “Alice” his bride of 48 years. He was born in Cedar Springs on November 19, 1942 to Glen and Jean (Koster) Hallock. Tete joined the U.S. Marine Corp. from 1960 to 1964. He was a truck driver, heavy equipment operator, and mechanic, a true handyman who could fix anything. He retired from Wynalda Litho. Tete enjoyed camping, traveling, quad riding, socializing, listening to music, and campfires. Surviving are his children, David Korreck, Christine (Lee) Mullennix, Timothy “John” Korreck, Holly (Dan) Metzger, Mandy (Jonathon Scutt) Hallock; grandchildren, Joshua (Danielle) Korreck, Trisha (Christopher) Dart, Jeffrey (Amber) Alverson, Jamie Taylor, Morgen Menefee; 6 great-grandchildren; brothers, Nick (Diane) Hallock, Lou (Jo) DeVore; sister-in-law, Mary Hallock; several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, grandparents, Fred (Helen) Koster, brother, Jim Hallock, grandson, Eric Mullennix. The family greeted friends Monday, September 19, at Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs, where the service was held 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, September 20. Memorial contributions may be made to the Michigan Veteran Homes at Grand Rapids, 2950 Monroe Ave. NE Grand Rapids MI 49505, Spectrum Health Hospice, 750 Fuller Ave NE Grand Rapids MI 49503, or Meals on Wheels, 2900 Wilson Ave. SW #500 Grandville MI 49418.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Olney Lee Hawkins, “Hawk”, as he was known by friends and family, went to be with his loved ones in Heaven on Monday, August 29, 2022. He passed away peacefully at his Belmont home, surrounded by his children, he was 91. He was born on August 10, 1931, in Fife Lake, MI to William and Thelma (Snyder) Hawkins. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 49-years, Florence; his parents; his daughter, Patti Jo; his brother, Luther Hawkins, and son-in-law, Larry Britton. He is survived by his daughters, Beth Hawkins (Stu Seling) of Hardy Dam, Susan (Dave) Faber of Conklin, and sons, Kyle Hawkins (Michael George) of Chicago and Jeff Hawkins of Belmont; 19 grandchildren; 31 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great-grandchildren; his sister, Marie Reimus of Gowen; many nieces and nephews; his beloved dog, Max the 3rd as well as his best friend, Billy Bennett and many other lifelong friends. Hawk attended Rockford High School before joining the US Army at age 17. He was a member of the 101st Airborne Division “The Screaming Eagles” during the Korean War. While still enlisted in the Army, he married Florence (Chollar) on February 24, 1951, at Fort Riley, KS. Together they raised five children and cared for many more through the years. After returning home from the Army, he built airplanes for General Motors in Grand Rapids. When a position with Steelcase was offered to him, he accepted and worked in the Chair Division for 35-years, before retiring. He loved anything to do with the outdoors; fishing, hunting, camping, mushrooming as well as being a master gardener. For years he fed his family, neighbors, and many others. He also passed on his gardening and canning expertise to his children and grandchildren, along with so many other valuable life lessons. There wasn’t an animal that he didn’t like, and he was always taking in a stray, even though he said he was not going to have any more pets. He was an avid Rockford High School football fan and attended every home game for years with his brother Luther. Everybody knew where they sat, and they always had lots of visitors at the games. Hawk was also a Saturday morning regular at Sue’s Kountry Kitchen in Cedar Springs, where he enjoyed breakfast with his family and friends, a tradition that will be continued by his family. After his retirement, he spent the next 32-years attending estate sales and auctions as well as selling a truck load of his beloved possessions at the Trufant Flea Market and Auction each week with his nephew Lyle Streeter. His garage was his oasis, where he spent hours tinkering with his treasures and making sure to keep a little bit of everything just in case someone needed it! He was member of the American Legion and a lifelong member of the Walton Junction Sportsman’s Club. There will be a Celebration of Life at the Rockford Community Cabin, 220 North Monroe Street in Rockford, on Sunday, October 02, 2022, from 2:00 p.m. To 5:00 p.m., with a military tribute and sharing of memories of Hawks life at 3:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, his wishes were that donations be made to the Humane Society of West Michigan (give.hswestmi.org), 3077 Wilson Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534, which was near and dear to his heart, or plant a tree in his name (alivingtribute.org) as a living tribute that benefits present and future generations for decades to come. Hawk impacted so many lives and will be dearly missed by all. We love you, Dad. Hawk’s family welcomes messages and memories in their online guestbook at www.plaisierfuneral.com.

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford

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Thank You

The family of Ron Fisher would like to send a special thank you to Kevin and the team at Bliss-Witters & Pike for your wonderful care of our husband, dad, grandpa and our whole family, during our loss. You all are so kind. Pastor Chuck Smith, thank you for a beautiful service. It was perfect. Your help during this time is very appreciated. To all who sent a prayer, card, food or even a thought of us, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  

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