BELLAIRE — Antrim County government’s “go-to guy” left big shoes to fill.
Prosecutor Charles Koop, 63, died unexpectedly Tuesday in his Williamsburg home.
For 23 years, Antrim County elected officials, department heads, employees and citizens counted on Koop’s advice and laughter. County Clerk Sheryl Guy said it was for good reason that he was given -- and wore -- a t-shirt emblazoned with the words “Charlie the Man, the Myth, the Legend” at a recent birthday celebration.
“His office did it, actually, but it fit him,” she said.
Antrim County sheriff’s Sgt. James Janisse said a public viewing will be held today from 2 to 8 p.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church Social Hall in Elk Rapids. He said law enforcement will escort Koop’s body to the church and an honor guard will stand at the casket ends for the viewing’s duration.
A public service will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at New Hope Community Church in Williamsburg.
Undersheriff Dean Pratt said dispatchers received a call from Koop’s wife on Tuesday at 10:35 a.m. He said Koop was still in his bed and pronounced dead at the scene. Antrim County Medical Examiner Dewey Benson conducted an autopsy Wednesday but would not comment on the results.
“It was an unexpected death as the result of health issues,” Pratt said, adding he would not “speculate” on a specific cause of death, such as a heart attack, until he read the report.
Janisse said Koop’s death was a shock to all his family and friends.
“Charlie was a family man and arguably the best prosecutor in Michigan,” he said. “He had a balance we all strive for. Charlie died happy. His family was happy.”
News of Koop’s death was met with shock across Antrim County government, especially in his prosecutor’s office.
“We just shut down the office at that point,” said Mark Fett, chief assistant prosecuting attorney. “There was not much legal work we could do at that point or, I would guess, until next week.”
Fett said 13th Circuit Court Judges Thomas Power and Philip Rodgers must soon make an appointment to fill the empty prosecutor’s position. He said it’s likely he assistant prosecutor James Rossiter would be appointed and a new third prosecutor would be added to the office.