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Edwin's Story

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Edwin G. Thirlby, 79, of Traverse City, passed away peacefully on Nov. 19, 2017 at his home. Ed was born on May 6, 1938 in Traverse City, to the late James and Alice (Bird) Thirlby. He married the love of his life, Beverly Bradford in 1958. On July 12, 2017, they had been married for a total of 59 years. Ed was the company founder of Thirlby Automotive. Around 1963, Ed and Beverly opened their first store located on Lake Street along the Boardman River in Traverse City. Today it has grown to 12 stores around northern Michigan. Although Ed retired in 1991, he left behind a wonderful legacy of hard work and dedication carried on by his children, Ed, Julie and Mike.
Ed was most passionate about racing Pro Outboard boats, and started at the age of 12 in 1951. Ed not only loved racing boats but also built custom outboard motors which resulted in multiple championships for boat racers from coast to coast. Over the years, the motors that Ed built received several awards; some of which are: 25 American Powerboat Association (APBA) Hall of Champion inductions, 109 U.S. National championships, 72 U.S. Title Series (USTS) championships, two UIM World championships, 10 Colonel Green Awards, two North America championships, and hundreds of USTS and APBA podium finishes. Ed received the highest honor in powerboat racing when in 2003 he was inducted into the APBA Honor Squadron. Ed's passion for boat racing eventually became a family tradition as his wife, children, and grandchildren became involved in boat racing. Over the years, Ed was very generous with his time and knowledge and became a mentor and friend to several members of the racing community. The relationships that he forged with the racing community will forever remain.
Ed was a life member of the Elks Lodge #323. He loved dogs and his faithful companion "Whitey" was always at his side.
Ed is survived by his loving wife, Beverly; his children, Julie (Butch) Strait, Lynn (Tim Swinehart) Thirlby, Edwin Thirlby, Jacqueline Thirlby, Mike (Julia) Thirlby; grandchildren, Lynn (Shawn) Helms, Crystal (Derek) Dehn, Whitney Strait, Juliana (Joe) Schump, Jeffrey (Christina) Green, Dru (Lindsay) Green, Brandon (Leah Salay) Thirlby, Collin (Ashley Schaudt) Thirlby, Tyler Thirlby, Preston Thirlby, Andrew (Ashley Rucker) Ansorge, and Parker Thirlby; great-grandchildren, Harrison, Charli, Sawyer, Elizabeth, Wade, Claire, Henry, Faith and Willa; sister, Judy (Doug) Peterson; nephew, Russell (Heather) Fruchey; and loving care giver, Dawn Anderson.
Ed was preceded in death by two sisters, Susan Fruchey and Mary Thirlby.
Friends are welcome to visit with Ed's family from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 at Grace Episcopal Church, 341 Washington St., Traverse City, MI 49684.
A funeral service honoring Ed will take place on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017 at 11 a.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. Graveside services will follow at Grand Traverse Memorial Gardens.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the Cherryland Humane Society or to the Multiple Sclerosis society.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories with Ed's family at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com.
The family is being cared for by Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services.
Published on November 22, 2017
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