I have heard already from both the state director of Michigan Audubon and the caretaker of the Otis Sanctuary, and they are planning some sort of memorial for Dad at the upcoming Cerulean Warbler Festival which takes place at the sanctuary in early June. I don't know if there will be a family presence. We may instead do a less public family gathering later in the summer to scatter his ashes.
I intend to see that that happens. So many people loved him, and he has so many nieces & nephews still living, that I hope memorial donations will flood the Sanctuary's mailbox! (We made sure the obituary gave the proper contact info, too.)
Norman D Erway, age 90, died on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, at home. He was born on June 24, 1922, in Barry County, MI, the fifth child of Louis and Nina (Otis) Erway. Norm spent part of his early childhood in Florida and then lived in Kalamazoo, MI, and spent his summers and weekends with his cousin Harold Otis on his grandparents' farm near Hastings, Mich. He graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1940 and attended Kalamazoo College where he won several prizes in Chemistry and graduated in 1944 with majors in chemistry and physics. Norman worked on the Manhattan Project of the Atomic Energy Commission at the University of Chicago during World War II. On June 9, 1945, he and Wilma Fechter were married at their college chapel in Kalamazoo and together they moved to Chicago for a year. In 1946, they moved to Oregon, Wisconsin where Norm attended graduate school in Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin. In 1947, they formed a partnership and started a scientific glassblowing business making and repairing scientific glass apparatus for the University of Wisconsin, other universities and laboratories all over the country and overseas. Norman was most proud of having been the glassblower for many Nobel Prize winners at UW-Madison. John Ames joined them in the shop in 1959. The business celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2012. The Erways were blessed with three daughters: Kim in 1953, Tracy in 1955, and Ricky in 1957; and with one granddaughter, Catherine, in 1992. The Erways traveled all over the United States and Canada. In 1964, they built a vacation home on the Petenwell Flowage of the Wisconsin River where they spent much of their time. Norm loved downhill skiing, and skied frequently in the Midwest and Western states, as well as Austria and Switzerland. Norm continued to downhill ski until he was 87 years old. He also enjoyed cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice-boating, ice-fishing, whitewater and flat water canoeing, camping, hiking, boating, sailing, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, hunting, beach combing, and visiting and photographing light houses. He and Willie traveled extensively visiting six continents, most recently China in 2007, and took adventurous trips on dories through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River; on old sailing ships off the Maine Coast; and on river cruises in the US, Canada, and Europe. With their family they took a horse pack trip in Montana; chartered sailboats in the Caribbean; whitewater rafted in Idaho and Utah; and enjoyed houseboat vacations in Utah, Minnesota, and Missouri. In recent years, Norm was passionate about the conversion of the family farm he enjoyed as a youth into the Michigan Audubon Society Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary. He and Willie helped finance and led the building of a floating boardwalk through the marsh and the renovation of the barn into a nature center. Norman is survived by his wife of 67 years, Wilma; three daughters, Kim (Bill) Birck of Missoula, MT,Tracy (Baxter) Burton of Effingham, IL, and Ricky Erway (and partner Ted Brooks) of Redwood City, CA; a granddaughter, Catherine Rose Burton (the light of his later years), who is attending Millikin University in Decatur, IL; his English Springer Spaniel, Nellie; many cousins, nieces, and nephews in Michigan; and by their friend and coworker, John Ames and his family. He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Frederick and Charles; two sisters, Betty (Harry) Meech and Marion (Serafino) Gesmundo; many cousins, including Harold Otis; and several dear aunts and uncles. There will be no visitation or formal services. His ashes will be scattered at their vacation home on the Petenwell and at the Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary (c/o Michigan Audubon Society, Box 15249, Lansing, Michigan 48901). The family would like to thank the staff of Agrace HospiceCare, Darcey Nett and the caregivers of Always Best Care Senior Services, and especially to John and Carol Ames and their daughter Dana Lindsey for the loving care provided to Norm and the family. Online condolences may be made at
Kimby, I had missed the obituary link before so thanks for pointing back to it. Your father was a most interesting man. It's nice that the Bird Sanctuary will benefit from memorial donations. It appears to be a very fitting tribute to your father.
When he'd lost the ability to do much else he was still plotting and dreaming up ideas for the visitor center. And with over two hundred photos on the digital photo frame we gave him, when one of the farm rolled up, he'd say' "Now we're getting there!"
Just spoke to the Otis Sanctuary director today to set up a return visit with Dad's ashes in September. Mom and the three daughters will go. The director says that donations in Dad's memory were still coming in in July, 4 months after his passing. We plan to make a family contribution toward a project that will enhance the bird sanctuary and honor Dad's memory. We're thinking maybe a bird watch tower or blind ("hide") looking out over the marsh that Dad loved so.
Dad always joked that when he died, he wanted his ashes packed into shotgun shells and shot out over the marsh. I don't think he expected we would take him seriously, but I found a fellow in Montana who has a reloading machine, got a box of shells loaded, and we have been given permission to fire Dad's remains out over the marsh.
This will probably be Mom's last trip to the farm, but it was Dad's family farm. She was a city girl from Chicago.
On revisiting the Otis Sanctuary website, I realized that the sanctuary was dedicated 10 years ago, in 2003. Glad that Dad had this to occupy his mind and stir his memories for the last 10 years of his life.
It also presented many opportunities for him to share " the olden days" with his daughters, for which I will be forever grateful.
One of the things my family did while at the Otis Farm scattering Dad's ashes was to investigate sites for a possible birdwatch tower.
(The fella in the foreground is the Sanctuary Director.)
Here are the views (from ground level) at a couple of the potential spots, both of which overlook the marsh:
This site is closer to the barn/visitor center, and accessed by a relatively easy trail:
This site is higher up, on the ridge above the cabin, and has views across the marsh to a more distant ridge, but it has the disadvantage of being quite a steep hike for people who have trouble getting around.
We haven't yet chosen the site, and our cousin who's a fine builder will be working up a design and budget this winter. We plan to add a family donation to the memorial donations that came in in his name. Hope to see this done, maybe next summer, with a volunteer labor crew - similar to the way the boardwalk was built a few years back.