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David McMacken


1942 - 2019
David McMacken Obituary
If you are reading this, it means I am dead. I passed over on July 8, 2019, as a result of a battle with cancer. A memorial service will be held Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 11 am at the Alma First Church of God. Interment will be in Oak Grove Cemetery, St. Louis. Visitation will be held Wednesday from 5 to 8 pm at the Lux-Moody-Wolfel Funeral Home and Thursday from 10 am until time of service at the church. I was born on March 14, 1942, at Smith Memorial Hospital in Alma, MI, to Florence (Schrock) McMacken and Charles H. McMacken. I grew up on the family farm at Crawford in southern Isabella County and attended the Lincoln Center one-room school. I attended the Strickland Baptist Church and committed my life to Christ at a young age. In 1959 I graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School where I was influenced to become a writer by my 10th grade English teacher Tom Northway, a natural writer. After obtaining a liberal arts degree from Central Michigan University in 1963, I decided I wanted to teach and added the necessary credentials. My first and only job was as a teacher of composition and literature to juniors and seniors at Alma High School for 40 years. I added a master’s degree from CMU in 1966. I was married to the AHS librarian Virginia Helman on June 16, 1973. It had taken quite a while to get the marriage arranged, since I was a slow starter, and many sighs of relief accompanied this event. Perhaps there would be grandchildren after all! Aha! Fooling one and all, we were blessed with three children all of whom survive me: Megan (John) Rock of Chesterfield, MI; Gavin (Lindsey) McMacken of Midland, MI; and Jordan McMacken of Alma, MI. My grandchildren include: Sela, Evan, Gemma, and Ian Rock and Gideon McMacken. I am also survived by a sister-in-law Marlene Helman of Saginaw, MI, and a dear friend David Westlake of Winston-Salem, NC. Besides becoming a teacher, I became interested in local history, and thus began a series of talks and research relating to Gratiot County and cemetery art which resulted in thirteen books and more than 250 history presentations statewide. I also enjoyed working with my collaborator Tom Schupbach on numerous articles for Michigan History Magazine. My other collaborators included the late Louise Davenport and the late Gordon Beld. I enjoyed writing history scripts for Friends of the Alma Public Library. These included numerous cemetery impersonations for a devoted group of thespians (it’s fun to dress up). I also wrote scripts for special “days” such as Republic Truck Day, Made-in-Alma Day, the Centennial Titanic dinner, the Beginning of World War I dinner, the Opera House Block open house, and other events. I also gave an “Evening in the Park” summer talk for 40 consecutive years. I had the privilege of recording renovations on the Opera House Block, truly one of Michigan’s special buildings, with more than 5,000 photos, and I became intimately linked to that edifice from its cellars to its skylights. I served on the St. Louis Cutler Memorial Library board for 20 years, and the boards of the Gratiot County Community Foundation, the Pine River Arts Council, and the Alma Community Arts Center. I was honored with the Spirit of St. Louis award in 2008. Virginia and I were awarded the Friend of the Foundation award in 2016. I was active in church work, serving on committees, teaching Sunday School, and working in children’s programs. My favorite spot to enjoy was any sandy beach on Lake Michigan where I could contemplate both the beauty and mystery of the lake. After retiring in 2005, I also enjoyed building stone walls and designing steel sculptures for our ever-expanding flower gardens. I grew to dislike monkeys, perhaps because of a mounting resemblance as I looked in my mirror. I collected books on Virginia City, NV, and the Comstock Lode, where, at age 15 in the Nevada desert, I nearly fell into an unguarded mine shaft which certainly would have cut short any future endeavors on my behalf. I also collected more than 100 books on the Titanic and was a member of the Titanic Historical Society for forty years. All of these activities are overshadowed by my pride in my wife, children, and grandchildren, and most of all reliance on my faith in my Savior. Now I truly understand these precious words from II Cor. 5:8: “Absent from the body; present with the Lord.” I hope you will too. If you think my memory is worth it, gifts may be made to the McMacken Family Fund at the Gratiot County Community Foundation where they will begin doing good things for the Gratiot community. Or, if you like a good book, the Alma Public Library or the St. Louis Cutler Memorial Library would be pleased to accept your generosity. To view David’s obituary or to leave a condolence for the family please visit www.luxfuneralhomes.com.
Published in Morning Sun on July 9, 2019
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