Bud and Nancy Stych outside their home on Bluff Road on the Old Mission Peninsula | Stych Photo
Bud and Nancy Stych outside their home on Bluff Road on the Old Mission Peninsula | Stych Photo
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Bud Stych and I go back a long ways. Decades ago, back in the last century, he and my dad worked together on efforts to preserve the rural quality of the Old Mission Peninsula. They would show up at Township meetings with prepared statements about this development or that development, making their claims as to why they should be scaled back or stopped altogether.

Dad and Bud would have long brainstorming sessions, either at Bud’s house on Bluff Road or at my parents’ house in Old Mission. They’d spend hours hovering over land use maps, plat maps, the township’s master plan and zoning ordinance, spread out before them on my family’s quarter-sawn oak table, brought back to Old Mission by my great-great grandfather from the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 (the table is now in my house – story forthcoming).

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When Dad passed in 2002, Bud and I remained friends. After Tim and I first bought our property on Bluff Road, we had a small truck farm here to help fund our little piece of Heaven. When Bud heard about it, he was totally onboard and became our first customer. I’d scrub the carrots and potatoes as best I could, and then apologize when I delivered them to Bud and his wife Nancy to the north of us on Bluff Road. “Don’t worry about the dirt!” he’d exclaimed. “The dirt shows they’re fresh and right off the farm!”

When I started the Gazette in 2015, again Bud was totally onboard with the whole idea. He encouraged me from the day I started right up until he passed on Friday. He’d send encouraging notes, news bits and sometimes corrections (thank you, Bud), and when I didn’t post for a few days, he’d email to see if everything was ok. He was especially encouraging over the past year as I’ve tried to find my footing after losing Tim.

Bud’s son, Ed, told me that while Bud was recently in rehab recovering from a fall, he was pretty much without his computer, “his lifeline to what was left of his world over the last couple of years.” But when he got back home to his computer, the first thing he wanted to check out was the Gazette. That made me so happy to hear.

“He really loved the Peninsula,” said Ed. “And he loved the Gazette and the work that you and your late husband did and you continue to do.”

I’ll miss Bud so much, but it’s anyone’s guess what he and Dad are cooking up right now. Likely some well-thought-out idea to make Heaven an even better place. I’m sure they have reams of documents and powerpoint presentations to support their idea.

Below, read Bud’s obituary that Ed sent to me…

Edward Joseph “Bud” Stych Jr.

May 31, 1933 – Feb. 10, 1923

Edward Joseph “Bud” Stych Jr., age 89, of Traverse City, Mich., died Feb. 10 at home. He died of complications from pneumonia.

Bud was a longtime business owner in Traverse City, a talented engineer, and a tireless worker for the preservation of the Old Mission Peninsula, where he lived for 58 years.

He and his late wife of 61 years, Nancy, raised two sons, Ed and Bill.

Bud was born on May 31, 1933, in Chicago to Edward Sr. and Rose Stych.

He was an Eagle Scout and a member of the Order of the Arrow in the Boy Scouts, served in the ROTC, was a Third Degree Mason, and graduated from Tilden Technical High School in Chicago in 1951.

He attended Illinois Institute of Technology, but took a break from his studies in 1954 to volunteer for the draft for the Army. He trained as a microwave radio repairman at Fort Monmouth, N.J., where he graduated at the top of his class. He served at Camp Gordon, Ga., and earned the rank of Private 2nd Class.

Bud eventually received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from IIT in 1961.

Bud and Nancy met at a church youth group in Chicago and married on Aug. 16, 1958, at First Congregational Church in Chicago. During their early years of marriage, Bud first worked as a telegraph serviceman at AT&T in Chicago and then for Revere Camera Co.

He eventually struck out on his own, forming Stych Engineering Co., where he designed high-speed printers and other products. In 1963, he invented a new kind of voltage scanner that he sold to a New Jersey instrument company. The sale gave Bud and Nancy the financial ability to move, along with their two young sons, to Traverse City in 1965 to enjoy the inconspicuous lifestyle they desired.

Left to right, Bill, Bud and Ed Stych; celebrating Bud's birthday in 1966, shortly after moving to the Old Mission Peninsula from Chicago | Stych Photo
Left to right, Bill, Bud and Ed Stych; celebrating Bud’s birthday in 1966, shortly after moving to the Old Mission Peninsula from Chicago | Stych Photo

They first rented a house on Neahtawanta Road and eventually built a house on Bluff Road on East Bay so they could enjoy the water that they loved so much. Bud built most of the house himself.

Bud and Nancy owned and operated equipment rental stores in Traverse City for 21 years, first as United Rent-All and later as Rentals Unlimited. They sold their business and retired in 1986. They also owned the Misty Spray Car Wash in the 1960s, the first coin-operated car wash in Traverse City.

Bud, Bill, Nancy and Ed Stych in 1982 at one of their Rentals Unlimited stores in Traverse City | Stych Photo
Bud, Bill, Nancy and Ed Stych in 1982 at one of their Rentals Unlimited stores in Traverse City | Stych Photo

In the 1980s, Bud was among several Old Mission residents who formed “Protect the Peninsula,” a citizen’s watchdog group. In 1988, the group successfully prevented a 1,000-acre golf course, retail and housing development from being built on the peninsula, arguing that it would increase population and traffic so much it would irreparably harm the area.

Throughout his life, Bud remained an engineer at heart, spending countless hours building and maintaining the family house and business. He spent considerable time working on boats that he owned, including a trimaran sailboat and, most recently, a lobster boat. He was a member of the Grand Traverse Bay Sail and Power Squadron.

In retirement, Bud and Nancy traveled frequently, including to Hawaii, Alaska and Europe. They also traveled through North American mountains and forests in their two-seat railcar — another machine Bud enjoyed tinkering with. They were members of the North American Railcar Operators Association.

railcar, bud stych, tiny trains
Bluff Road’s Bud and Nancy Stych with their Railroad Motorcar | Photo courtesy of Bud Stych

Mr. Stych was the beloved husband of the late Nancy Stych of Traverse City; and dearest father of Edward J. (Anne) Stych III of Concord, N.C., and Dr. William C. (Peggy) Stych of Traverse City.

He was the fond grandfather of Maureen (Sam Shipman) Stych of Portland, Maine; Joseph (Erin) Stych of St. Anthony, Minn.; Jeffrey Stych of Traverse City; Ellen (Brandon) Williams of Charlotte, N.C.; and John Stych of New York City.

He was the treasured great-grandfather to Natalie Stych, Nolan Stych, Sloane Shipman and Fia Shipman; and uncle to many nieces and nephews. He also was the dear brother of the late Lovina (Roland “Bud”) Stancl of Orange, Calif.

He was preceded in death by his beloved 17-year-old Norwegian Elkhound, Tukluk.

We — his sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren — will miss him greatly. We are now separated, but only for a time.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Old Mission Gazette or Mission Point Lighthouse.

The family would like to thank Munson Healthcare Hospice and Bud’s caregivers for their loving care: Tracy, Melissa, Heather, Greggory and Rebecca. A memorial service will be held in the spring.

Bud Stych | Stych Photo
Bud Stych | Stych Photo
2019: Nancy and Bud Stych sitting. Left to right standing: Anne, Ed, Peggy, Bill and Jeff Stych. Jeff is Bill and Peggy’s son and is a podiatrist in Traverse City | Stych Photo
2019: Nancy and Bud Stych sitting. Left to right standing: Anne, Ed, Peggy, Bill and Jeff Stych | Stych Photo

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A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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  1. So sad to hear of Bud’s passing. I met him a couple years ago when he contacted me about donating a painting of the lighthouse. I picked it up at his house and sent him a photo of it’s place in the front hall for visitors to see. Very kind and thoughtful to give it to the lighthouse. When I commented on the beautiful view of East Bay from his home, he said, “You should have built here in ‘65.” (I was born in ‘65) 🙂


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