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June 23, 2013

Traverse City pays tribute to Bryan Crough

TRAVERSE CITY — Bryan Crough was often credited for his vision that breathed new life into downtown Traverse City.

But to Todd McMillen, Crough was more than a man who brought activity and economic development downtown. He was his partner who loved him unconditionally.

Crough, 59, never ate a vegetable and wouldn't pick up his socks, McMillen said. Cooking wasn't Crough's strength, and if he mowed the lawn once he'd take credit for it the entire summer.

"I'm not trying to play him down, but I wanted you to know that he was this big visionary and person to you, and to me he was just my life," McMillen told hundreds of people at Crough's funeral Saturday at the City Opera House. "There was a word used in our house and we never took it for granted and it was called joy. And I got to have the most joy of everybody."

Crough, 59, died June 16 of an apparent heart attack. For nearly two hours Saturday, friends and colleagues shared memories and laughter, applauded Crough's vision as longtime executive director of the Downtown Development Authority and his role in city government, Rotary Club and promoting the Old Town Playhouse.

"He treated everyone with courtesy and respect, even those who vehemently disagreed with him," said friend Jan Warren.

Crough was born in Salina, Kan., and moved to Traverse City in 1980. After a stint with the U.S. Census Bureau, he poured his energy into the local arts scene as executive director of the Old Town Playhouse. Revitalizing the playhouse from a place where folks liked to put on plays to a viable nonprofit was Crough's training ground for many projects to come.

Jeanette Mason, a director at Old Town Playhouse, praised his ability to "work hard and play hard without losing the respect of his peers."

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