TRAVERSE CITY — Buddy Schardt helped others in every facet of his life.
As a father, as a mechanic, as a neighbor and as a recovering alcoholic, he helped those who needed him because it was the right thing to do.
That's what friends and relatives will remember most about Schardt, 60, of Traverse City, who died following a Saturday boating accident on Boardman Lake.
"He was always there for people and always helping people, doing whatever he could," said Toni Aeschliman, Schardt's younger sister.
Emergency divers pulled Schardt from Boardman Lake on Saturday about 8:30 p.m., roughly seven hours after he slipped below the water's surface during a day on his boat with two friends.
The accident left Schardt's family, friends and Linwood Lane neighbors grieving the loss of a man they described as well-liked and "happy-go-lucky."
Schardt's son Thunder Storm Vanbrocklin described his father as a man who was happy and content with the life he lived.
"He was more at peace with where he was at than anyone else I ever knew," Vanbrocklin said. "Just content with his life and what he’d done with it."
Vanbrocklin said his father volunteered in the community and lent special aid to Alcoholics Anonymous members.
Schardt himself struggled with alcohol, but in January he celebrated 20 years of sobriety. He took pride in helping others maintain their sobriety, Vanbrocklin said.
"We’re grateful for the change we saw when he turned his life around, and how he affected others' lives," Aeschliman said. "We saw so many great things that he did and accomplished"
Neighbors Joanne Houston and Leo Richard talked about Schardt on Monday outside Richard's home, where Schardt often helped carry in groceries or haul garbage to the curb.