Marty Reay passed away on Nov. 15, 2023. I knew he’d had some health issues over the past year or two, but it was still a shock when his son, Matt, called to tell me the news. It’s always a shock to hear news of someone’s passing, and especially when that someone has such a long and rich history on the Old Mission Peninsula.
My husband Tim was actually related to Marty – Tim’s dad, Tug, was a cousin to Marty’s dad, Chum – but it was really only the past few years that Tim and I got to know Marty and became fast friends. It all started with an old truck that we stumbled across in the woods off Center Road many years ago.
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The truck had the Reay family logo and business info on the door, and Tim got permission from the land owner to remove the door and take it home. He’d planned to hang it in his shop because it meant so much to him and was a big part of his childhood memories.
Fast-forward a few years and we crossed paths with Marty Reay — whose parents, Chum and Marian, had a homestead and business on Center Road past Swaney Road — at the annual Boursaw family reunion in August. Tim ended up interviewing Marty in 2019, and had this to say about the Reay homestead.
“During the summers in the 1950s, my family would often go out to Mission Point Lighthouse for beach outings or a picnic or two. We usually went to the end of the fire trail, the two-track that runs from M37 (Center Road) east through the woods, ending at East Bay.
“On the way out there from Old Mission, we would pass an old, lonely-looking farmhouse. It sat on the left side of the road just before what is now Shorewood Drive. At that time, it was the only house on the long stretch of road north of Swaney Road leading out to the lighthouse...
“The homestead belonged to my dad’s cousin, Chum Reay (pronounced Ree-ah). We always considered Chum and his wife, Marian, and their kids Maxine, Brud, Marilyn and Marty, the last pioneer family on the peninsula. Their small fruit farm was based more on family subsistence rather than commercial gain. The farm included a horse, a cow, some pigs, a large garden and a variety of fruit trees – pears, apples, prunes, some cherries, peaches and a nectarine tree or two.“
Read Tim and Marty’s full interview here, and learn about the Reay’s long history on the Old Mission Peninsula and how the door was returned to its rightful owners.
Finding that door set off a series of other events … the year following Tim and Marty’s interview, Marty got a new birdhouse for Christmas – in the shape of the truck with the iconic door! Matt, who runs a trucking and snowplowing business in Portland, Michigan, changed their truck logos to the original logo. And Tim and I were the recipients of a beautiful painting done by Marty’s granddaughter, Belle. That painting will always have a home on the wall of my office here on the Old Mission Peninsula where I produce Old Mission Gazette.
I will miss seeing Marty and sharing stories about the Old Mission Peninsula, but my guess is that he, Tim and Tug are having a grand time talking about that truck and door and other Old Mission memories right now.
Below is Marty’s obituary posted at the Lehman Funeral Homes website, in Portland, Michigan, where Marty settled and raised his family.
Martin James Reay
October 20, 1948 ~ November 15, 2023 (age 75)
Martin James Reay, of Portland, Michigan, was born a resident of Old Mission, Michigan, to Matthew and Marian (Zoulek) Reay, on October, 20, 1948. He died on Wednesday, November 15, 2023. Marty attend elementary school in Old Mission, then went on to graduate in 1966 from St. Francis High School in Traverse City. Growing up in Old Mission gave Marty a love for the simple things in life, something he strived to pass along to his family.
Marty was a fisherman, and the only thing he loved more than fishing was his family, which included everyone he met. He also loved listening to music and dancing, and shared that passion with his family.
Marty married Connie, the love of his life, in 1975. They settled in Portland, Michigan, where they created a “family” out of their friends and raised their children. Later in life Marty found great joy in being Papa to his many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Marty owned several businesses throughout his life. He especially loved dealing in antiques, which he continued to do into his retirement years. Never fully retiring, he also continued his involvement with Mid Michigan Expediting, a business he took great pride in, which he established and operated with his son, Matt.
Marty leaves behind a legacy of love and laughter. His humor and “Martyisms” will be greatly missed.
Marty was preceded in death by his parents, brother, Matthew “Brud” Reay, sister, Maxine Johnson, father-in-law and mother-in-law Gabe and Martha Pincelli and infant son, Michael John.
Marty is survived by his wife, Connie Reay and his children, David (Stephanie) Reay, Kelly (Tom) Herron, Justin (Jeanie) Cline, Martha (Tom) Heniser, Matthew (Melissa) Reay and Christopher (Sarah) Reay and his sister, Marilyn (Donald) Smith. Also left to treasure his memory are his grandchildren, Nathan (Brea) Patrick, Jamie (David Bell) Reay, Chance (Kenadee) Hoppes, Jeffrey (Allyson) Reay, Krista (Brian Brunson) Reay, Tommy (Kati) Herron, Shelby Herron, Chloe (Ian Talbot) Hutula, Graeme (Kristin) Harris, Rilee (Kyle Lawless) Harris, Delaena (Anthony) Harley, NaTanya Cline, Cody Heniser, Maddie Heniser, Isabelle Meeker, Tony Meeker, Maddey Painter, Jarrod Painter, Brantley Reay, Hadley Reay, Alexa Patino, Elouise Reay and Gabriel Reay and his great grand children, Liam, Wyatt, Jade, Jacob, Jordyn, Paxton, Kruz, Karsyn, Cayden, AJ and Sophia. Finally, he will be remembered by many in laws, cousins, nieces, nephews and special friends who he considered family.
A funeral service honoring Marty took place at the Lehman Funeral Home in Portland, Michigan on Nov. 20, 2023.
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 the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my 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. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb