Frederick Burton Hawley, 90, of Suttons Bay, passed away Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 at his home.
Fred was born July 24, 1927 in Victory, the son of Arthur and Volberg (Petersen) Hawley.
Fred moved from Ludington to East Leland as a young man. At Leland high school Fred became an accomplished athlete playing center position on the basketball team and his team made a prolonged run to the 1945 Class D state semi-final game. The coach stayed home as he was also the school superintendent. A veteran, he joined the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II and aboard the ship USS Callen helped shuttle the troops home, traveling widely across the Pacific until his honorable discharge.
Later the family moved into Leland village, near Indiana Woods, where he commuted to work with co-workers to Parsons Corp. (later Cone Drive Gear) where they manufactured helicopter blades and fiberglass boats, and then pinons and reduction gears at Cone Drive Gear. One winter while laid off, he even fished out of Fishtown with his commercial fishermen friends for whitefish and chubs.
In 1960, looking for change, Fred purchased the 40-acre Harold Smith cherry farm on Stoney Point and began his dream job as a cherry grower while still working his day job in Traverse City, often working 16-18 hour days. Success came with hard work and the conversion of the cherry business to mechanical harvesting, cooling pads, steel tanks to haul fruit, close planting of trees and new cultural practices pioneered by the Michigan State University Extension. With consistently higher prices he bought surrounding farms, planting thousands of trees each year and becoming one of the largest northwestern Michigan growers in the state. Teaching seminars attended by northwestern Michigan farmers from adjacent counties were regularly held in his orchards and were led by visiting MSU Horticultural professors. He served for numerous years on various cherry industry boards advising processors and growers alike. He also hosted many Cherry Festival Queens and their courts for splashy mid-summer orchard film tours.
Fred was an avid outdoorsman and excellent deer hunter with much time spent in the woods with both sons and daughters and was an avid ice fisherman during the winter off season. His summer passion was his expansive flower and vegetable gardens - reputed to be sufficient to feed the entire Village populace - always generous. Near the end of his life he reacquired a special friend and former neighbor and spent many meaningful moments reminiscing about times past. He had a green thumb and was a handful... we will miss him.
Fred is survived by his children, Randy, Jim, and Karen (Mark) Drake; his grandchildren, Megan (Eric) Bowden, Melissa and Josh Drake.
He was preceded in death by his daughter, Sandy Burkholder; and sisters, Helen and Janet.
Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to the start of the 1 p.m. funeral service on Saturday, March 3 at Martinson Funeral Home of Suttons Bay. Father Bryan Medlin will serve as celebrant.
Memorials may be directed to Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center, 6686 S. Center Hwy., Traverse City, MI 49684 and/or Mass Intentions.
Condolences and memories may be shared with Fred's family at www.martinson.info.
Arrangements are with the Martinson Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Leelanau.
Published on March 1, 2018