News

Photo ©2021 by Bennie White

THE OAK PARK CITY COUNCIL IS THE LEGISLATIVE AND GOVERNING BODY FOR THE CITY OF OAK PARK. City Council is comprised of a Mayor, a Mayor Pro Tem, and three City Council Members who are elected at-large. The voters elect the Mayor and the City Council Members, while the Mayor Pro Tem position is determined by the greatest number of votes by the voters in the previous election.

Currently, Marian McClellan serves as the Mayor of Oak Park, Julie Edgar serves as the Mayor Pro Tem and Soloman Radner, Carolyn Burns and Shaun Whitehead all serve as Council members. Whitehead is the newest addition to the Council; he was sworn-in in January of 2021 after former Council Member Regina Weiss resigned because she was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. From January to November of 2021, Whitehead served as an appointed member to Council because of the timing of the vacancy from Weiss’ resignation. Following the November 2021 election though Whitehead joined his peers as an elected member of Council.

In the last year the Oak Park City Council has witnessed a great deal of change, both in relation to the pandemic and how the City has been transforming. In 2020, Oak Park joined communities across the nation taking precautions to best protect the health and safety of employees and residents due to the COVID-19 pandemic. City facilities have since opened to the public, but safety measures remain in place. And, despite the challenges COVID has presented a great deal has been accomplished in Oak Park.

“Despite the obstacles presented by Covid, especially the inability to meet in person, we surprisingly accomplished a lot in 2021,” said Mayor Pro Tem Edgar. “We got new trash receptacles to keep our city cleaner, we held steady on water rates, passed a fair housing ordinance, and began planning for a new dog park that could open in the spring.”

Mayor Pro Tem Edgar also serves as a member of the Dog Park subcommittee and City Council liaison to the Parks & Recreation Commission.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT HAS ALSO BEEN BOOMING in Oak Park, a great deal of which is driven by policy.

“Small businesses, especially little restaurants, are the engine of our local economy,” said Mayor McClellan. “And so much of what has been opening in Oak Park has been changing us from a once subpar community to one that is spectacular.”

The new businesses in the Water Tower Social District have brought new food, beer, coffee and additional beverage selections to the City. And, the revitalization of the Nine Mile Corridor is another example of vision, dedication and innovation coming together to further build on Oak Park’s thriving community.

The development of the FedEx Ground Distribution Center at the former Detroit Armory site helped shift Oak Park from a surviving community to one that is thriving. Building on the original 2015 armory site announcement, as of today, the City of Oak Park can officially say that the former Detroit Armory site will now be fully developed in the coming months. Between FedEx, the new Forgotten Harvest headquarters and a newly approved development by OPUS Development Company, Oak Park is again welcoming new businesses.

The site approved for the OPUS spec build out is 17.3 acres, where a 275,484-square-foot warehousing and storage spec building will be constructed.

A diverse community, a dedicated community, a patient community and a community represented by committed, forward thinking and experienced officials have all led to a thriving community. And…more is yet to come!

“The change in this City is astounding,” said Mayor McClellan. “Our trajectory has completely changed, for the better.”

THANK YOU FOR ANOTHER SEAMLESS ELECTION, OAK PARK. Thank you to the 5,098 voters who cast a ballot and supported the democratic process. Thank you to those who supported the City of Oak Park by renewing the Public Safety millage and the Solid Waste millage. Thank you to those who ran for City Council, showing that their dedication to this City is unwavering. Thank you to all the volunteers and Oak Park staff who worked this election, allowing each voice to be heard.

Elections are the crux of the democratic process, a culmination of each voice in a community. In Oak Park we have a diverse community, one where I am proud to say each voice is heard and represented. This election reaffirmed that those elected to represent the best interest of Oak Park have considered the individual needs of residents while also focusing on the long-term vision and success of the community. As the City Manager, I am grateful for the trust the City Council and the community has instilled in me to help transform Oak Park.

And, as the 39th City Council was sworn-in on Nov. 8, with Marian McClellan as Mayor and Carolyn Burns and Shaun Whitehead as Council Members and Julie Edgar as Mayor Pro-Tem, I am certain we will continue to push forward on the path of excellence.

FOR A COMMUNITY TO EXPERIENCE SUCCESS, many factors must align. Community goals, short-term and long-term visions, practicing of the policies preached, funding to implement the policies and projects, and trust and patience in those elected and appointed to serve. In Oak Park, the stars have aligned for this success and as we move into the next phase of optimization, I am eager to see how our community continues to come together, building on our diverse pool of ideas.

As my excitement for Oak Park’s future continues to build, I must congratulate Mayor McClellan and Council Members Burns and Whitehead for their success at the polls. The resounding confidence this community has in our leaders is a sign of greater things to come.

I also want to congratulate the leaders of our neighboring communities who were elected, and re-elected too. For Oak Park, Southeast Oakland County and the entire Metropolitan Detroit Region we must be able to work together with our neighbors, to share ideas, collaborate and celebrate each other’s successes, for if one of us is successful, we all are.

AND FINALLY, WHILE I HAVE EXPRESSED MY GRATITUDE for the passage of the Public Safety and Solid Waste millage renewals, I must take a moment to highlight what this means for Oak Park. With the support of these fundamental funding mechanisms, residents will continue to receive the services they have come to expect, such as community policing and environmentally friendly solid waste practices.

And, with these services being supported by millage revenues we will continue to not only provide them, but also utilize our General Fund dollars to support additional services and projects to optimize Oak Park.

So, thank you again Oak Park for showing up to support your community and helping us to continue down our path of excellence.

Sincerely, City Manager Erik Tungate
City Of Oak Park

Photos ©2021 by Bennie White

NINE YEARS AGO, CITY MANAGER ERIK TUNGATE told me that when economic development reaches a certain level it gains momentum and starts snowballing. Looking around at our stagnant City in 2011, it didn’t seem likely. Fast-forward to now and that stagnation has turned into momentum, and now Oak Park is where it’s happening. Many years of gathering community input, detailed planning, acquiring funding, ordering equipment and installing it are culminating right now. It’s an exciting time to be in Oak Park.

This momentum has occurred because of several different projects, ideas, and of course bountiful support. First, we began to beautify the City by planting gardens of cheerful yellow sunflowers. Flowerpots on main streets also started to appear, bringing pops of color and the feeling that folks around here cared about keeping up appearances. Spirits were raised and hope was reborn.

Then, new City signs sprung up. The tacky cyclone fencing at I-696 and Coolidge was replaced by a memorable, award-winning gateway to the City of Oak Park. It brands and beautifies the City and welcomes walkers and those on bikes.

Improvements to Nine Mile Road have also been creating momentum. The Nine Mile Redesign is changing the trajectory of that neighborhood. The street diet, the new trailhead, pocket parks, bike lanes and back-in parking for businesses and the attractively landscaped pocket parks at Sherman and Seneca are among the new amenities helping us to attract families to that area. The linear park on the south side of Nine Mile will only encourage more families to visit the area. Lovely new fencing in that area also has added some visual unity.

ELEVEN MILE ROAD IS ALSO GETTING A MAKEOVER; It has been rezoned so abandoned tool-and-dye shops can be reborn as bistros like Oak Park Social, breweries like Dog & Pony Show Brewing and Unexpected Craft Brewing Company, and an upscale coffee/entertainment center called Berkley Coffee in Oak Park. We also are taking advantage of the new state law that allows Social Districts, encouraging people to visit the local businesses and meander from one to the next. This once under-used district is transforming into a fun destination for young folks, though my husband who is not so young also loves going to Dog & Pony for a coke and some BBQ.

While we love our businesses and improving our corridors, we also love our parks and our dogs in Oak Park. I know from walking and talking to voters that we own a lot of dogs in Oak Park. And, with such a population a dog park only seemed appropriate. The Dog Park Committee of the Recreation Commission is making plans for a beautiful dog park on Scotia past Albany for dogs of all sizes. With plans on this plugging way, we hope to have more updates too.

Other projects of interest that are helping to popularize Oak Park forward include supporting new housing alternatives to meet the needs of young professionals who prefer to bike or bus around without car costs. The City has secured one loft development for Nine Mile right by a bus stop and a Mogo Station.

WITH SO MUCH PLANNED WE ARE STILL LOOKING TO THE FUTURE for ways to maximize our development dollars by cooperating with neighboring cities and writing grants together to benefit the region. We are also working with Berkley and Huntington Woods to qualify for beautification grants and road diet funds. We will be adding specialized gardens that absorb flood water in the city. I’m very proud of these multi-City initiatives!

Our diverse, friendly residents are our greatest asset in attracting young singles, couples and families. We are developing Oak Park in accordance with our vision based on our hometown values. A great deal of new infrastructure, new events and new energy has already happened or is in final planning stages. The best is yet to come.

Photos ©2021 by Bennie White

THOSE DRIVING ALONG NINE MILE RD IN RECENT WEEKS have witnessed a ninja-like play structure popup, lollipop-inspired structures lining parts of the park, and several other play structures finding their permanent placement.

All of these structures along the Nine Mile Linear Park are meant to bring inspiration, fun and enjoyment to those who live in and visit Oak Park. The sensory panels will increase awareness and social interaction, the ninja warrior course will increase children’s agility (and fun) and the other amenities will allow for spinning, jumping, swinging, and bouncing!

For the Linear Park, a great deal of research and review was conducted by City officials and industry professionals to ensure it is safe for use by children, families and the community as a whole. Additionally, in the Spring, landscaping will be installed to serve as an additional buffer between the equipment and the road, and fencing will soon be placed around the Sensory Station. The City will also be installing additional traffic-calming measures on Nine Mile to complement the ones installed at the beginning the Nine Mile Redesign project. Safety is the highest priority of this park, followed by fun of course!

To add to the fun, several pieces of public art will also soon be added, providing more beauty for the community to enjoy. And, while the addition on the Linear Park certainly signifies transformation of the Nine Mile Corridor, this is just the latest improvement.

OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS, THIS AREA HAS BEEN TRULY TRANSFORMED, with dedicated bike lanes, a road diet, lovely pocket parks and a stately trailhead. And wait – there’s more! Following the completion of the Linear Park, a connector park along the Linear Park, between Troy Street and Nine Mile Road, will also be added. Once complete, this small passthrough park will act as an extension of the Linear Park, connecting the neighborhood to the south to the Nine Mile Corridor. It will include many new play elements for children:

• Small Zip Line – A fun way for kids to travel from one end of the park to the other.

• “Sensory panels” – Proven to increase awareness and social interaction.

• Two play features (one spinning, one bouncing) that are accessible to children with mobility devices (for example a wheelchair).

Amenities for adults also being added include benches and a picnic table (accessible by wheelchairs) to relax in the shade.

The Nine Mile Redesign is a largely grant-funded public improvement project that aims to transform the Nine Mile Corridor into a walkable, vibrant public space packed with amenities for users of all ages and abilities. Through the added amenities discussed above, Oak Park is well on its way to completing the original vision.

All of the incremental pieces of the Nine Mile Redesign are coming together to create a string of meaningful public spaces for residents and visitors of all ages and abilities to visit, stay, play and shop. Together, Oak Park is revitalizing the Nine Mile Corridor by providing the amenities and increased recreational opportunities residents desire, ultimately sparking a new beginning for Oak Park.

By Jane McNamara

THE CITY OF HUNTINGTON WOODS HAS BEEN ABLE TO MEET THE CHALLENGES OF THE LAST YEAR with resilience and strength. The Recreation Department and Library continue to quickly adapt to the changing circumstances created by the pandemic. The City has also welcomed many new staff members that have quickly embraced the community.

The Library is open for 30-minute visits and curbside service is still available. Programs are being offered as a mix of in-person and online. Storytime has continued as well as special youth events such as Super Saturdays. Adult programming has resumed in-person with a bevy of interesting lectures. The City also welcomed a new Children’s Librarian, Calla Sundin, to the community over the summer.

The Recreation Department never stopped providing fun to residents. Our Teen Council has resumed in-person meetings and continues to organize and sponsor community service and events. Senior programming, like weekly films and lunch-bunch has begun again in-person. Residents can look forward to exciting events throughout the year. Information is available by checking the City’s newsletter, the Hometown Herald, and by signing up for the City’s weekly e-blasts at www.hwmi.org.

Adults and children alike can enjoy the new Gaga Ball Pit at Burton Field, brought to the community by Seamus Lux as his Eagle Scout project. The Recreation Department also welcomed Lauren Fletcher as Program Specialist. If you see Lauren at the Rec., give her a warm welcome!

THE CITY IS IN THE PROCESS OF UPDATING THE MASTER PLAN. The Planning Commission, staff, residents and planners have all played an integral role. The Master Plan will incorporate the Anti-Racism Plan and values established last year to ensure future development is committed to justice, fairness, and peace for all. The innovative ideas brought to the Commission during the planning process will mean that Huntington Woods continues to become more vibrant and welcoming.

Public Works has continuously worked hard to make sure that infrastructure is updated and services maintained. Residents can now enjoy new infrastructure and roads after a construction-heavy Summer, brought to you by the additional funds in the general fund after the Public Safety millage was passed. During the storms in July and August, crews worked tirelessly to clear trees and keep the community safe. City staff also opened the doors of City Hall to function as a cooling and charging center.

Residents will be met with some new faces at City Hall as well. Jane Kaminski will welcome you at the front desk and help take care of building permits and general inquiries. Michelle Jenny will answer water billing and property tax questions and concerns. As always, residents can continue to utilize the drop boxes for bills and election materials.

The City Commission continues the search for City Manager. The diligent search will ensure that the wonderful legacy that Amy Sullivan left will be continued. Stay up to date on all City happenings by visiting the City’s Facebook Page, e-blast and website.

By Torri Matthes

BERKLEY PARKS & RECREATION TAKES PRIDE IN BEING A SMALL BUT MIGHTY DIVISION in a vibrant and active city. Berkley is home to nine parks (seven of which fall under Parks & Recreation’s supervision), eight baseball fields, ten tennis courts, and a Community Center.

The Department consists of five full-time staff and a number of part-time staff who work within the Community Center, our outdoor maintenance team, summer day camp, and senior transportation. Staff also partner with community groups, youth league sports organizations, and many others to offer a variety of recreation services including over 100 youth, adult, and senior programs and activities throughout the year.

Following the community’s 2021-2025 Recreation Master Plan, Parks & Recreation is working to implement and update new play equipment, improve seating and picnic facilities, increase accessibility in parks and open spaces and increase more shade and trees within the parks.

Over the past year, the Parks & Recreation Department eagerly held a park-naming contest and grand opening for Berkley’s new Oxford Park that contains a new restroom facility, walking paths, new play equipment, and splash pad which opened in June 2021.

Additionally, the Department installed a new play structure and play equipment at the Tot Lot Park in Spring 2021, and a new play structure will be coming to the Community Park in Fall 2021.

The Berkley Parks & Recreation Department works because of our dedicated staff and wonderful volunteers who all love Berkley and come together to provide great experiences for the residents and those in surrounding communities.

 

By Lisa Howard

LONGTIME BERKLEY RESIDENTS FONDLY REMEMBER AMICI’S PIZZA & LIVING ROOM…and they might not even know that the restaurant ever closed. That’s because the restaurant only shut its doors for one day: January 1, 2020.

On January 2, 2020, they reopened under new ownership as Amici’s Kitchen & Living Room. Tim and Laura Kenrick had been regulars at Amici’s for years – their favorite was the artichoke pizza – and when Tim decided to rethink his career in corporate restaurants, serendipity and googling “restaurants for sale in Berkley” led to buying Amici’s. “It was pretty much a love connection right from the start,” Tim says. “After over 20 years of working in corporate restaurants in this market, I wanted to get back into authentic hospitality. Owning this business allows me to do what got me into this industry in the first place.”

Of course, opening a restaurant in January of 2020 turned out to be an even bigger challenge than the couple had ever anticipated, when they had to revert to curbside-only service after just ten weeks. Tim, Laura and their staff spent the first six months in a hold-steady mode or, what Tim refers to as “no hard-lefts and no hard-rights.”

Gradually, they started making changes here and there, like scrapping paper plates in favor of standard plates and silverware, and renovating the sound system, interior lighting and bar. They also added heaters to the patio before winter hit, which led to parkaclad guests enjoying their dinners amidst a snowy landscape.

IN 2021, MENU CHANGES ARRIVED in the form of appetizers, Michigan beers on draft and new “Tim’s favorites” pizzas. (Don’t worry – the classic pizzas are still on the menu, plus you can still build your own pie.) Laura now makes Amici’s sole dessert: double-chocolate chip cookies. Not surprisingly, they sell out nearly every night. Tim and Laura have added more cocktails to the roster, too, including seasonal drinks like the wintery Brown Sugar Cinn made with house-cinnamon infused reposado tequila, Grand Marnier and lemon juice. While diners will still find plenty of martinis on the menu, the martinis now share the spotlight with margaritas, especially in the summer months when everyone wants fruity and spicy flavors like mango-habanero and strawberry-mint.

One key to the continued success of Amici’s, Tim says, is the staff. Due to the ownership transfer only taking a single day, he and Laura didn’t have to lay anybody off. Also, having worked in the corporate restaurant industry for so long, Tim already had established relationships with hospitality professionals. “Our success is 100 percent due to the staff we’ve been able to keep and cultivate,” he says. “Not being short-staffed right now is an absolute anomaly.” That said, they’ll be closed on Sundays during the winter months to avoid putting too much pressure on their loyal staff. Martini Sundays will become $7 Martini Mondays, followed by $4 Michigan craft beers on Tuesdays, half-off bottles of wine and sangrias on Wednesdays and Thirsty Thursdays with specialty cocktails on offer.

THROUGHOUT THE RESTAURANT’S EVOLUTION, Tim says he’s loved finally owning his own restaurant. And for her part, Laura is just as much a part of the action – Tim calls her the “morale booster and restaurant mom,” roles that she fulfills along with baking the sought-after cookies and being in charge of dough production for both the sourdough-fermented dough and the gluten-free dough.

“She’s the brakes and I’m the gas,” is how Tim describes their relationship. “We’ve been married for 28 years she knows me better than I know myself. It’s a great partnership.” All of the pizza lovers in Berkley would raise a slice to that!

Amici’s Kitchen & Living Room
3249 Twelve Mile Rd, Berkley MI 48072
248.544.4100
www.amiciskitchenandlivingroom.com

By Sara E. Teller

Businessman, Family Man & Visionary

JACK ARONSON, FOUNDER OF GARDEN FRESH IN FERNDALE AND A MAN WHO GAVE FIERCELY TO THE COMMUNITY HE LOVED, died peacefully in his sleep at age 68 after a battle with cancer. His heart of gold and love for his family will long outlive him.

Aronson was first and foremost a go-getter. He poured passion into everything he did. Son Daniel Aronson, the youngest of five now-grown children, said “I couldn’t have asked for a better role model and father. He was determined and hard-working, and yet he always made time to be with his kids.”

Daniel said of his father’s business mindset that he was always innovative and on the cutting edge. “He was the heart and soul of Garden Fresh,” he said. “He created the recipes. My mom helped make it come together while my dad would go out and sell it. He partnered with business-minded people. When he discovered that some of the products, like onions, were exploding, he researched high-pressure pasteurization vessels; water pressure which kills pathogens extending the shelf life and keeping everything fresh. It was a game-changer.”

Brett Tillander, CEO of Metro Detroit Youth Club, echoed these sentiments, saying of Aronson, “He saw the things that go unseen and heard the things that go unheard.” For the Youth Club, “He was a coach for people who needed it.”

ARONSON DID MUCH FOR THE KIDS INVOLVED WITH THE CLUB. Tillander remembers Aronson set one of the members up to throw a first pitch at a Comerica Park game. Aronson was inspired by her tenacity, Tillander said, and mentored her until, as an adult, she began to work with autistic youth herself. He recalled, “Jack had the ability to seed and inspire others to take action.”

He also added that Jack and wife Annette made a great team, saying, “Throughout their time at Garden Fresh, they both did so much. I remember Annette wouldn’t let the sale of Pepsi go through so that employees wouldn’t lose their jobs.” He chucked and recalled, “One day, Annette came in and some of the employees were anxious about it, wondering why she was there. Turns out, she just came in to wash the windows.”

Daniel and Tillander both agreed some of their favorite memories with Aronson involved food. Daniel called his dad a “foodie” and said he was a “phenomenal cook” who would feed a crowd by coming up with “seven different things that would somehow all come together in the end.” He added, “My favorite memories were driving around finding new places to eat.”

TILLANDER SHARED A STORY OF ARONSON RANDOMLY DRIVING HIM out to Red Hots Coney Island in Highland Park (now closed), putting four coney dogs in front of him and leaving him with a to-go bag of twenty. He didn’t have the heart to tell his friend he had just switched to being a vegetarian. He knew Aronson had a love for food, and Tillander ended up just eating them all. He said, “Whenever Jack was driving, it was an adventure. You had no idea where you were going and yet it was all okay.”

Daniel found his dad’s willingness to go above and beyond and get involved in as many charitable organizations as possible incredibly inspiring. He recalled, “He was involved in lots of charities, not only the Youth Club, he did a lot with the Salvation Army and the Beyond Basics Reading Program.” He added, “Above all, my dad was passionate, compassionate and strong.”

Tillander hopes that “when the silence comes, when the flowers stop, when the cards stop, others remember to connect with Annette and the family. They’ve done so much for the community.”

Jack is survived by his loving wife and devoted partner,  Annette (known as Vitamin A), his children Trevor (Angela), Melissa (Davey), Melanie (Dave), Jack (Bridget) and Daniel (Shantel) as well as 16 beautiful grandchildren, Tyler A, Tyler, Marlie, Janet, Katie, Jayson, Landon, Ryan, Lily, Katie, Emily, Mya, Lea, Hannah, Olivia and Drea, and siblings Kenneth (Joan), Virginia (Gordon), Diana (Roger), David (Lynn). Predeceased by his parents and his brother, Sonny.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Metro Detroit Youth Clubs (www.miclubs.org), Say Detroit (saydetroit.org), Salvation Army of South-Eastern Michigan (centralusa.salvationarmy.org/emi) or Beyond Basics (www.beyondbasics.org).


JACK WAS A PROUD GRADUATE OF FERNDALE HIGH SCHOOL, a restauranteur, and founder of Garden Fresh Gourmet. But, more than that, Jack and his beloved wife Annette, were committed to helping our community and our children achieve a better future. As a part of that commitment, the Aronsons made an incredible investment in Ferndale Public Schools to help improve literacy.

Jack knew that success for any student is built on a strong foundation of literacy. Due to the incredible generosity of the Aronsons, Ferndale Schools was able to hire a full-time reading specialist and purchase flexible learning furniture, computers, and licenses for READ 180 curriculum. READ 180 is a researched-based reading tool that blends reading comprehension, academic vocabulary and writing skills for students. Thanks to the Aronsons, Ferndale High School has been able to provide vital reading intervention and tutoring for hundreds of students.

Jack’s commitment was much more than just financial. In addition to being involved in the reading program at FHS, he and Annette regularly took the students on culturally diverse field trips and brought them lunch so that they could talk and get to know each other. Jack was committed to establishing personal relationships with our students and school community.

Jack’s engagement traveled far beyond the boundaries of Ferndale. He served on the board of Beyond Basics (an organization promoting youth literacy), as well as the national board of the Salvation Army. Through their foundation, Jack and Annette were also significant contributors to Boys and Girls Clubs of South Oakland County, as well as other charitable causes focusing on bettering the lives of children and young adults.

WHILE MANY WILL REMEMBER JACK for his incredible success in the business world. We in Ferndale have been blessed to know Jack personally and to witness the truly life changing impact of his generosity. The greatest legacy any of us can hope to leave behind is one where through our actions in life others benefit when we are gone. Jack has truly left a legacy that will positively impact our community for generations to come.

On behalf of the entire Ferndale Schools family, I want to send my deepest condolences to Annette and the entire Aronson family.

Thank you Jack.

Dania H. Bazzi, PhD
Superintendent, Ferndale Schools

 


THERE ARE MANY FOND MEMORIES OF THE TIMES I SPENT WITH JACK. I know I don’t stick out as anyone special in any particular way but that’s completely appropriate. Jack was a larger-than-life person to probably everyone he knew.

We met when I was running AJ’S Cafe in downtown Ferndale. AJ’s was a beloved “living room” of Ferndale that achieved a lot of local, even national and global attention for the many grassroots activities that happened there. Jack once told me that when he traveled around, people knew two things about Ferndale, him and AJ’s Cafe! That was pretty cool.

When the time came to leave AJ’s Cafe, I was kind of like a fish out of water. I had no idea that the social capital we had achieved at AJ’s could be translated into working capital somehow. I put my chips down on a coffee company and we called it Detroit Bold, because the city of Detroit and all of its people, despite all we had endured throughout the ages, was bold. It was the best word to describe us.

THERE WAS NO ONE I COULD HAVE IMAGINED ASKING FOR ADVICE OTHER THAN JACK. He basically took me under his wing and took me in. I’ll never forget that first meeting on 9 Mile at his headquarters in Ferndale. He sat me down at this super-long executive meeting table with he, Dave Zilko, and Mike Griffin, his trusted cohorts. They began to lay out a plan for me to follow and gave me the necessary roadmap towards success. Detroit Bold is sold in hundreds of stores today and it would never have happened were it not for Jack.

It was not all work, though. I played in his charity softball games because he asked me to be one of the celebrities. I could not imagine myself as a celebrity but hey – if he wanted me to play I was glad to, no questions asked. I knew the cause was good. We had a lot of lunches together, mostly at Red Hot’s Coney in Highland Park. We both were originally from around there and loved to go back. Our roasting operation is there, too. Jack made sure to stop in and see the facilities and lend his name to ours.

In 2016, we lost our mom. Throughout the year, Jack always made sure that I went back home with hummus, chips and salsa. Our mother was bedridden and had a hard time eating, but she sure loved that hummus. I Face-Timed Jack for my mom so she could say hello and, of course, Jack was gracious enough to chat with her.

Jack and Annette (that was our mom’s name too!) attended the funeral and took me off to the side of the room where they gifted our family a check to help with the funeral costs. I was so flabbergasted, it was completely unexpected and quite helpful. Jack and Annette knew that my coffee business was still a fledgling business.

JACK NEVER SOUGHT ATTENTION FOR THAT KIND OF STUFF. I think Jack knew that happiness did not come from the attainment of things. It came for Jack by giving, and quietly so. I think that of all the gifts he has given to me, that is the one that I cherish the most.

If you knew Jack, you know what I mean. If you didn’t know him, rest assured you

would have liked him. He gave his time and talents to me as he would to anyone who crossed his path.

Rest, dear friend. We will carry on and your memory will live on for generations to come.

AJ O’Neil
Detroit Bold Coffee & AJ’s Cafe

 


I KNEW JACK ARONSON SINCE THE ’70S, THROUGH A MUTUAL FRIEND. But I really got to know him and his wife Annette in the early ’90s, working for him at Clubhouse BBQ. Then, in August of 1998, I started working for them making salsa in the back of the restaurant. That’s when the real story began.

As the salsa business grew over the years, so did their love for helping others. Through their humble struggle building a business, so did their humanitarianism grow. They became involved with the Bed & Breakfast Club, Salvation Army, The Boys & Girls Club and many other great giving foundations. They started their own Artichoke Garlic Foundation. They help fund Beyond Basics and many more. They have been there for countless organizations and thousands of individuals over the years.

I love these people who also helped me in my time of need. I can’t express my deep sadness for the loss of my friend. Jack who lost a three-year struggle with cancer. Through his struggle, he learned so much about this horrific disease, traveling to Switzerland, Austria and lastly Hungary in June/July of this year searching for alternative cures. Through his travels, much was learned for future cancer victims.

His memory will live on throughout the world forever. R.I.P. my dear friend and boss in Heaven with all of the other Earth’s Angels.

Sincerely, your Cherbot 2000!
Cher Mitchell


I’D HEARD HIS NAME IN MY HOUSE EVERY DAY FOR YEARS. My mom was always going to work at his house, or she would hang with his wife, Annette (one of her best friends). Jack was my first boss at Clubhouse BBQ in Ferndale. Now I know the whole family, and am sorry for their loss of such a creative and generous man! He loved helping his community.

I was already working at the restaurant when he created Garden Fresh Salsa. I worked at a few different positions for that company too. On one trip in Chicago, Jack told a waiter it was my birthday. It was not, but they didn’t know that, and the staff came with a cake and song. It’s funny to look back on now! He made a pig for my luau graduation party and an employee put the pig’s head on my living room table! (I had just become a vegetarian.)

Jack sent me food often through my mom. He knew I love salmon. He loved me, and called me Amy Lou. (“Jack, like you know that is not my middle name right?”) I used that name on a voice text telling him that I loved him about eight hours before he died. I am very grateful that I knew to tell him that then.

He made his dreams come true and did what he was sent here to do, which is to help people! I could never forget him even if I wanted to. He has been such a big part of my life.

Amy Mitchell


ONE THING ABOUT JACK ARONSON (there are too many to list) is that each relationship he had was unique to that individual. He always made you feel important, no matter if you were a student trying to build your own brand or the CEO of a major company. I never saw any ego in any of my time with him over the years.

When I was in treatment for cancer, he made sure I had food prepared each week, and when it was over he and Annette offered me a job with the Ferndale Literacy Project. He saved my life in ways he and Annette never knew. Heartbroken that I will never hear that booming voice again or have to struggle to keep up with his speed-talking. Love you,  Jack.

Carol Jackson
Ferndale Literacy Project
SouthEast Oakland Coalition

MICHAEL B. LENNON, AGE 64, OF FERNDALE, died on Thursday July 1, 2021. Loving father of Ryan (Kristy) Lennon and Tara Lennon. Dear brother of Sherry Lennon, Lori Lennon, Tim Lennon, Ed (Mary Ellen) Lennon, B.J. (Karyn) Lennon, and the late David Lennon. Also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. Former spouse of Faith Lennon. Family suggests memorials be made directly to his children.

 

 


My wonderful late brother, Mike, was Ferndale through-and-through. He was born and raised in Ferndale, graduated from Ferndale High School, and served the City of Ferndale with distinction for nearly four decades as a police officer and city councilman.

Mike was very intelligent; he always kept up to date on everything going on in Ferndale. He made time for any citizen who had a question or concern. Although gruff at times, everyone knew that deep down he was a big teddy bear.

Mike’s biggest accomplishments in life were his two children: Ryan and Tara. He bragged about them all the time and was a big part of their lives. I always looked forward to him telling me about their latest accomplishments.

Mike’s legacy will live on. The City of Ferndale lost a great champion. He will always be rooting for Ferndale, even in Heaven!

– Tim Lennon, Brother


WHEN MICHAEL B. LENNON PASSED AWAY THIS SUMMER at the age of 64, another page was turned in the history book that is Ferndale, Michigan. One of those characters in a city with more than its share, Mike figured heavily in the political and civic life of Ferndale for more than 40 years.

Born to a big, boisterous Irish family during the height of the baby boom, Mike followed in the footsteps of his father, brother and other family members in local and regional community service. A police officer with the Ferndale Police Department for a quarter of a century, Mike went on to run and win a city council seat in 2003. He held that seat for twelve years during a period of continuing great change in Ferndale, serving under three mayors.

Mike was an old-style Democrat, moderate in social and fiscal policies but always a strong supporter of labor and the working and middle-classes. His common-sense positions and gruff but honest rhetoric drew support and votes from across the spectrum of Ferndale’s communities. He could always be counted on to stand up for city workers, the businesses, seniors and taxpayers in the city.

He was also a lovable and funny guy. My favorite stories about Mike took place one summer evening in the heart of the city. I found myself sitting next to Mike at the patio bar at Como’s. The place was packed…with hundreds of women. Mike turned to me and said “I like this bar. There’s lots of pretty, sharp women here.” I told him that it was first Wednesday, and that he was surrounded by lesbians. He grinned, and said, “That’s okay, I love it.”

That same night, after Mike ordered a drink, the waiter brought him his vodka in a tiny rocks glass not even the size of a tennis ball. Mike held it up and roared in his gravelly voice that could be heard across the din of the patio: “I’m gonna’ need a bigger glass…this glass is too small.”

During my time as mayor, Mike sat next to me, and during the summer months I benefited from the fan that he had installed under the council desk that kept blowing on him during our sometimes interminable meetings.

For a time Mike worked for Jack Aronson as a driver at Garden Fresh Salsa. As we mourn the loss of these great lions and friends of our community, we can take solace in knowing that Ferndale is a much better place because of them.

– Craig Covey, Former Mayor

 

 

 


I FIRST MET MIKE LENNON PRIOR TO ANY INVOLVEMENT in local politics. We were both working on a charity event for one of the local non-profits. The first thing that struck me about Mike was the way his face lit up when he was greeting people. Mike loved people, especially his Ferndale people.

Mike came from a family with deep roots in Ferndale and he committed his life to serving his neighbors. First, as a police officer, then as a city councilperson, and throughout his life at any community event or charity fundraiser.

Later, when we served on city council together, Mike carried that love for his community through every issue we considered and vote we took. Mike especially liked to look out for those whose family, like his, were residents over several generations. He was passionate about holding those neighbors up and ensuring they were always represented.

I am really going to miss Mike. His sense of humor was infectious. He would leave candy wrappers on your council chair or pass on a slightly off-color joke. He was serious about his work and service. He had a big heart and always had time to offer advice to someone new trying to get involved in the community. He always made time to listen to his constituents or to just be a good friend. His larger-than-life personality will continue to leave its mark for a long time in Ferndale.

– Dan Martin

 


MY DAD TAUGHT ME THINGS I’LL NEVER FORGET. Even if he thought I wasn’t looking, I studied his every move as a kid. From the way he called everyone “boss,” the way he shook everyone’s hand, the way he knew exactly what buttons to push, and which ones not to push.

He had a magnetism about him that could captivate a room, and he often made sure of it. He was a bit gruff and rough around the edges, but he was also reasonable, unshaken, and tender at heart. He cared for the little guy and stuck up for his fellow man. He took pride in his work and in his public service and never gave up on people.

Words simply cannot express how unique my dad was and how unbreakable our bond was. In fact, I still feel him with me every day. I’ve always been told that I’m just like him. Maybe without the quick wit and crass tongue I always knew him to have, but I was definitely given his mannerisms and ability to make light of any situation.

I KNOW THAT MY BROTHER AND I WERE VERY SPECIAL TO HIM. I saw the tear in his eye as he watched my brother graduate from the Navy A School, and I knew that every smirk he gave me was a “good job.” He wasn’t one to share his feelings very often but I could always see through to his true heart. Maybe it was from all the years of bonding over Chips with Erik Estrada while eating salt and vinegar chips, or maybe it was our mutual dislike for hanging Christmas decorations.

Whatever the case, he was just a man that sought love and understanding like all of us. My brother, Ryan, and I are proud of the knowledge and life skills he imparted on us, and we know he’s with us in spirit. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t on the other side, still trying to call me at 6:30 A.M. just to see if I had plans that day. I will always be his “Stinky” and he’ll always mean the world to me.

– Tara Lennon, daughter

 

 


Sorry to learn of Mike’s death. The Lennon family has contributed so much to the Ferndale community through the generations. Our condolences to all.
– Shirley & Don Pemberton

Rest in peace Mike.. Rest in the hallow of God’s hand.
– Sharon Szalma, Former Deputy City Clerk, City of Ferndale

Mike – I will miss your humor, kindness, and hospitality, and our occasional meals together sharing laughs and concerns.
– Jaynmarie Reddie

So sorry to learn of your passing. I remember you from high school as a good man. My condolences to family and friends.
– Doina Rosu

Mike Lennon, You are too young to leave us. We had some good times and you lived a life of service. Sometimes you lived larger than life. May you be pain free and at peace. I’ll see you again.
– Annette Richards

I will never forget our trip together to the Rose Bowl when Michigan won the National Championship. We sure had a lot of fun in California and of course here in Michigan. Mike, you sure will be missed. You had a great career in the city you loved.
– Kevin Knight

Rest In Peace my dear cousin.
– Deborah Calnen Halleck

Mike was a kind and loving person, always there when you need help. Condolences to the family. Stay strong Ryan and Tara.
– Patrick Lennon

I am so sorry to hear this. Mike was a great person. He contributed so much to the city he loved. My thoughts are with his children and family.
– Trisha Samseli

PATRICK J. CURTIN, AGE 90, DIED ON SUNDAY,  JULY 25, 2021. Beloved husband of 61 years to the late Carolyn G. (Spaulding). Patrick was born to Margaret (Brady) and Edward Curtin in Detroit. He was raised in Ferndale and graduated from St. James High School in 1950.

In 1951 he joined the firm of Spaulding & Son Funeral Home while he pursued his education in Mortuary Science, graduating in the class of 1953 from Wayne State University.  He then served two years in the U.S. Army in Kokura,  Japan during the Korean War. He returned home to marry the boss’ daughter and the love of his life, Carolyn Spaulding. They were married in June, 1956.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Patrick served on the Downtown Development Administration. While on the DDA he was on the planning committee for the first Dream Cruise, which was organized as a fundraiser for the Field of Dreams Soccer Park to be built at Martin Rd. Park. He was a lifelong member of St. James Parish where as a student there he served as an acolyte (alter boy) and later on the Parish Council with a stint as President.

In retirement, Patrick grew a full, white beard and was employed as a naturally-bearded Santa, donating all his wages to children’s charities. He had several antique cars which gave him a lot of joy, and he and our mother could ofter be found cruising Woodward in one of them, driving up to Birmingham for ice cream. He also enjoyed traveling and especially with his family, both as a young father and as a grandfather. He loved the Tigers, long road trips, and photography.

Patrick is survived by daughters Lynn O’Meara (Kelly), KellyAnne Ruda (Charlie) and daughter-in-law Patricia Curtin. Loving grandfather to Conor O’Meara M.D., Cait O’Meara (fiancé Steven Eby), HM2 Maura Curtin-Stubblefield, USN (HM1 Jerry Stubblefield, USN) and Charlotte Ruda. Dear brother to Aileen Littlejohn (late Ernie). Predeceased by son Kevin Curtin, sisters Mary Margaret Morgan (late Howard) and Sr. Rebecca Curtin, CSJ, brothers, Rev. James Curtin, Thomas Curtin (late Nina).

Patrick, with Carolyn by his side, was an avid traveler, having visited every continent. He was active for many years in St. James parish, Michigan Funeral Directors Association, Ferndale Kiwanis Club and various other organizations. He was a kind and generous man, supporting many charities to help improve the lives of those less fortunate. He was a true Irish gentleman with a quick wit and a loving heart.

Family suggests donations may be made to Pope Francis Center, 438 St Antoine Street, Detroit.
popefranciscenter.org/donate

Or the Ferndale Historical Society, 1651 Livernois, Ferndale MI 48220
www.ferndalehistoricalsociety.org

 


MY DEEPEST SYMPATHIES to you and your family with the loss of your dear Dad. He was the kindest and sweetest man there was. His love for his family, faith, and friends made a significant impact on many. I loved his laugh, humor and his mischievous ways of finding ways to have a little more fun. He will always be “my favorite godfather” and think, or believe anyway, that I was “his favorite goddaughter.” Thanks for sharing your Dad will all of us. The line to greet him in heaven will be long and know my Dad will be so happy to have his lifelong best friend with him and Are will have an apple pie waiting for him. Love you, Uncle Pat. My love to you and your families.
– Ann McNamara Knight


MR. CURTIN WAS THE NICEST MAN I’ve ever met besides my dad. I loved Mr. Curtin. It was an honor to assist him. I will always have fond memories of time spent with Mr. Curtin and his family. Kelly Anne and Lynn. I will miss Mr. Curtin forever.
– Shanell Farris


FROM THE MOMENT I met Patrick he was incredibly kind and warm towards me. Within ten seconds of meeting him, he sat me down and began to teach me backgammon before then stopping the game to offer me a rusty nail. A memory I will never forget.
– Dan Field


WHEN I WAS INTRODUCED to Carolyn and Pat quite a few years ago, I knew immediately what a sweet and charming man Pat was. They also exuded such love between husband and wife that I really believed them to be role models for any married couple. Carolyn’s death was a huge loss but now losing Pat is truly a multi-magnified loss for everyone who knew him. He joins Carolyn and other family members in the marvelous “Angel Brigade” of our dear Lord Jesus Christ. They’re all watching over every family member and all of their friends.
– Terry Toman


SWEET MR. CURTIN was the father of one of my closest friends, Kelly. I got to know him when he became my landlord. He treated me like another daughter and spoiled me with a beautiful scarf he brought back from Ireland, which I still have. And then there was the champagne he gave me at Christmas. Above all, he was one of the kindest souls that I ever met. He had a big heart, and a great sense of humor. Kelly and Lynn, you are in my thoughts and prayers.
– Robin Francis


OUR SINCERE SYMPATHIES to the Curtin family. Pat was such a gentleman and highly respected by his peers. We have only fond memories of him and pray for comfort in the loss of this patriarch.
– Mart and Mary Hollebeek


I FEEL VERY FORTUNATE to have had a 70-year-plus friendship with the most loving, very generous, spiritual, kind, person I ever knew: Pat Curtin; a delight to be around. His ability to not worry and greet almost any life event with a very positive & supportive attitude was admirable.
– Dick McEvilly


I WOULD LIKE TO OFFER my sincere condolences to the family for your loss. When I think of Mr. Curtin, I remember his pleasant demeanor, his friendly smile and genuine concern for the other person. Pat will be remembered professionally as a compassionate funeral director who had very high standards of professionalism. Funeral service has lost a remarkable colleague.
– David A. Kesner


PATRICK WAS A CLASS ACT. My memory will always hold that twinkle he would get in his eye, his signature giggly laugh and hearty hugs.
– Kathy Onderbeke