September 17, 2014

Remembering former Standish mayor Jack Stoner

Courtesy Photo
Jack Stoner

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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STANDISH — On July 15, the Standish community lost Jack Stoner, a former mayor and owner of the Standish Laundromat, who was involved in a variety of local organizations.

Jack died at the age of 81 at the Covenant Hospital in Saginaw, leaving behind a legacy that runs throughout the local community. Stoner served as the mayor of Standish for a total of 20 nonconsecutive years, and the people he served with said he worked tirelessly to improve the city.

“I first met Jack when I was hired in as the city manager in August of 1982, and he was mayor at the time,” said Doug Terry, who is the current Litchfield city manager. “I was a very young man, and Jack took me under his wing and helped me become a seasoned city manager.”

Terry said Jack was a very dedicated mayor and common-sense individual, who wanted to focus on making the city a good community for children and senior citizens.

Curt Hillman, former councilman, mayor, and current Standish city manager, agreed with that assessment, and said Jack was very involved in several moves for the city, such as participating in the sister city program with Wingham, Ontario in Canada and bringing the Standish Max prison to the area.

“He went to meetings in Lansing and met with (former) Gov. Blanchard,” Hillman said. “He wanted to make things better for the city of Standish.”

Rick Weishuhn, who served as mayor for one term around 2000, said Jack was an up-front mayor who would tell you what he was thinking.

“He didn’t tell you one thing and do something else,” Weishuhn said. “He was one of those guys you have to have around a small town or it doesn’t move along.”

Sheriff Jim Mosciski said Jack also worked to save the city money by implementing a police contract with the sheriff’s department. The contract had the sheriff’s department handle the police services for the city; one officer was rolled over into the sheriff’s department, while two others found work elsewhere, Mosciski said.

“Stoner and I worked out the contract in 1984,” Mosciski said. “We had it until about 2005-2006, before it was canceled between the city.”

Mosciski said he first met Jack many years ago, when Jack operated a laundromat in Sterling and Mosciski was a member of the Sterling Area Fire Department across the street.

While the two men did not spend a great deal of time together outside of work, Mosciski said they ran into each other at social events, and judged a pie-baking contest at the Arenac County Fair together.

“We ended up giving everyone a red ribbon, because all the pies were so good,” Mosciski said.

Hillman said he fell out of touch with Jack after he left office, but that he was very involved with the local VFW post and the United Auto Workers from his time working at Chevrolet’s Bay City plant, where he worked for 33 years. Hillman also praised Jack’s clever problem-solving skills.

“He was green before a lot of people knew what that was,” Hillman said. “He moved waste heat from the laundromat to under the sidewalk to keep it clear in the winter.”

Weishuhn said he did not spend much time with Jack outside of city business, but said he was a very dedicated man to work his outside jobs on top of working practically for free as a city official.

“He took all the hits,” Weishuhn said. “You take a lot as mayor since you’re out in front, so he would get hit on different issues.”

Terry spent more time with Jack, and said Jack and his wife Elaine became very good friends of his outside of city hall, calling him an honest and fair man who loved his children.

“He was so much fun to be around,” Terry said. “He was an avid sportsman, and loved to fish and hunt.”

Terry said he only talked with Jack occasionally after leaving Standish in 1995, as he got busy with his family and his career, but said Jack was always in his heart.

“I have so many wonderful memories of Jack,” Terry said. “There wouldn’t be enough news print to print them all, and I cherish everyone of these memories.”

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