William James McLachlan, 96, of Kewadin, passed away on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017 at Kalkaska Memorial Hospital Long Term Care, after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.
William "Bill" was born on July 28, 1921 in Petoskey, the son of Donald and Vivian (Hunt) McLachlan. He attended grade school at Creswell School, a one room school house on US-31 in Torch Lake Township. There wasn't transportation to attend school in Elk Rapids, so he went to live with his grandparents in Traverse City. To earn money, he would spade gardens and participate in boxing matches. His love of fishing began to develop during this time, when his uncle Clare taught him to fish on the Boardman River. In 1939, he graduated from Traverse City Central High School. He attended Michigan State University to study agriculture and then returned to work on the family farm, McLachlan Orchards. On June 6, 1942, he married Lillian Alice Williams, a teacher at Creswell School. Bill and Lillian would have three daughters; Sandra (Cap) Beckwith, Jeanne (John) Morrison, and Kathy (Ken) Doyel.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Bill saw many men his age go to war. In the spring of 1945, he drove to Bellaire to enlist in the United States Army. Since farmers were considered essential during times of war, the Army refused to accept him. Bill signed an official document refusing to farm, making him eligible to serve in World War II. He was on a warship in the Pacific when the first atomic bombs hit Japan. He spent over one year serving in the occupation of Japan and was honorably discharged in the fall of 1946.
When Bill returned from the war, he bought a car and went back to work at McLachlan Orchards, which was one of the premiere fruit farms in northern Michigan at the time. Bill was active in the community serving on the board of directors of the Cherry Growers Association. Bill helped found the Michigan Trappers Association where he served as director for many years and also served as regional president. He also served many years on the Elk Rapids school board and the Torch Lake Township board. He loved to hunt and fish, especially with his dear friend Rich Gribi. He also enjoyed tending to his garden, traveling to Alaska, and spending time with his family, who will always remember his generosity, sense of humor and the many summers spent in the cherry orchards of northern Michigan.
Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Lillian; his parents; his brothers, Robert and Donald (Bruce); and his special friend, Ann Bixby.
He is survived by his three daughters, 12 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren, and sister-in-law, Lillian McLachlan.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, Oct. 12, at 11 a.m. at the Central Lake Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes, with visitation one hour prior to the funeral service. Pastor Russell Tharp will officiate. Interment with Military honors will follow in Lakeview Cemetery, Torch Lake Township.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to Kalkaska Memorial Health Center (KMHC) - South Green House, whose staff treated Bill with care and compassion.
Arrangements have been handled by the Central Lake Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes. Please sign his online guestbook www.mortesenfuneralhomes.com.
Published on October 10, 2017