A week of mourning as community loses some big names.

January 14, 2015

Orval Smith. Jeannie Smith. Roger Pollock. Chuck Stafford.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

Every person impacts somebody during their lifetime. While each of those influences are important, there are some who impact entire communities. Over the past week, Mason County has lost some those people who certainly have played a role in making this area a better place to be.

Orval Smith

Orval Smith

Orval Smith. We just received word that Orval Smith of Custer has passed away. Orval was a veteran of World War II. After the war, he joined the Custer Fire Dept. and proudly served his community until just a few years ago, making him the undisputed longest serving firefighter in the county at the age of 91. Orval was also involved with the Custer VFW. He and his wife, Ila

He was certainly a gentle soul who gave his all to the community he loved. I thoroughly enjoyed running into Orval, whether on the scene of an emergency or at a family function (Orval was my sister-in-law’s uncle so we would cross paths frequently). As “Big George” Wilson would declare, Orval was one of the great ones from Custer.

Jeannie Smith

Jeannie Smith

Jeannie Smith. I was saddened to hear of the loss of Jeannie Smith, who fought a valiant fight against cancer. She left us too soon at the young age of 64. Jeannie was probably best known for running her daycare near the corner of Maple and Staffon streets, Jeannie’s Daycare. She was certainly a woman who influenced many of our area’s children, and a person whom parents trusted without a doubt to help raise those young ones. I’ve had the privilege of creating some of the Smith family portraits over the years. Jeannie was very particular about those family portraits and I was thankful when she declared she loved the pictures.

Roger Pollock

Roger Pollock

Roger Pollock. If you worked or lived in Ludington in the ‘80s and ‘90s, you probably knew Roger. He was the owner of the famed Pot West restaurant located in the present day Ron’s Place in the James Street Plaza. Roger, who died at age 75, was one of those guys who pretty much knew every person who walked through the door. Pot West was cafeteria style. Customers would stand in line and order their food. Roger would spend one or two minutes making small talk with each customer. He was the king of customer service.

Roger was also a past president of the Ludington Area Jaycees, the organization that brings us the Freedom Festival on Fourth of July. Before Pot West, he owned the Swedish Coffee Pot Restaurant, located where present day Scotty’s is. But, Roger was probably best known for his love of sailing.

Chuck Stafford. I got to know Chuck when we both worked at the Ludington Daily News in the 1990s. Chuck was already retired from his many careers and worked part-time as a the newspaper’s outdoor writer. He was pretty well respected around the state for his insight into the great outdoors. He was equally respected among his colleagues at the paper. Among his careers, Chuck served as a photographer for the Kalamazoo Fire Dept. For many years he lived on the shores of Silver Lake. Though that’s not Mason County (it’s Oceana County), his loss is worth mentioning and certainly his legacy influenced many in the area. Chuck was 78.

Each of these individuals have had a major role in our community. From veteran and firefighter, to caregiver of our children to businessman to journalist, these four people leave a void that will be hard to fill. On behalf of Mason County Press, please know that each of their families are in our prayers. God bless.



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