TRAVERSE CITY — Jeremy Jelinek was a family man at heart.
Jelinek lived in Suttons Bay and ran a beekeeping business there. He had an excellent reputation among those in the Leelanau County agricultural community, but those close to him said his world revolved around his three young children.
"He was the kind of father everyone would wish for," said his wife, Mandy Jelinek. "The kids were his life. They were everything to him."
Jelinek, 27, died Monday evening in a traffic crash along M-37 near Norton Road in Grand Traverse County's Blair Township. He was driving a semi truck with a load of bees when a pickup truck driven by Zachery Charles Boyer, 22, of Manton, crossed the center line and collided with Jelinek's truck at about 6:30 p.m., authorities said.
Boyer also died in the crash. The lone passenger in Jelinek's truck survived and suffered non life-threatening injuries. Authorities would not identify that passenger.
It appears Boyer passed a vehicle in front of him just about the time of the crash. It's not clear if the collision happened as he passed the other vehicle or shortly after, Grand Traverse sheriff's Lt. Chris Clark said.
M-37 was closed for about six hours to allow for investigation and clean-up.
Joe Send, a Benzie County sheriff's deputy, went to high school with Jelinek in Suttons Bay and remained good friends with him afterward.
"When somebody dies, people always say he was a great guy," Send said. "But he was genuinely that kind of person. He was just a great guy. He'd do anything for you, even if he didn't know you. He'd give you the shirt off his back."
Send said Jelinek was an extremely devoted husband and father. He had three children, ages 4, 3 and six weeks.
"He was a family man, he absolutely loved it," Send said. "He was probably one of the best husbands I've ever heard of."
Jelinek was a third-generation beekeeper. He sold honey and honey-related products, and his bees were used by area fruit farmers for pollination. The close-knit agricultural community in Leelanau County was hit hard by Jelinek's death.
"Our heartaches are very great at this point in time," said Bob Gregory, co-owner of Cherry Bay Orchards.
Gregory knew Jelinek for years and once employed him. Jelinek was friendly and had a very solid business reputation, Gregory said.
"He was super energetic, always kind and considerate and looking for ways to help people," he said. "He had an excellent reputation for doing what he said he'd do and doing it in a timely manner."
Alan Spinniken, another Leelanau County fruit farmer, agreed.
"He was a very kind young man, and he was always quick to offer help in any way he could," he said. "I don't know anybody who didn't like Jeremy."
Boyer's family couldn't be reached for comment.
TRAVERSE CITY — Jeremy Jelinek was a family man at heart.
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