TRAVERSE CITY — Jack Edward Solomonson passed from this life June 29, 2013, surrounded by his family after a day-long sharing of “Jack” stories, laughter and tears.
He is survived by his wife, Violet (married almost 65 years); daughters, Mary Jo (Dana) Lance, Barbara Solomonson (Jan Doran) and Kristina McLain; grandchildren, Jeffery Jerrett, Jenafer (Greg) Gokey, Meagan McLain (Al Koglin) and Nick McLain; great-grandchildren, Jeffery Robert, Jason and Jaxon Jerrett, Gretchen Kingsley and Jacob Gokey; one great-great-granddaughter, June Jerrett; and bonus grandchildren, Eric and Kaleena Slade and Abigail Daniels.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Lorna Solomonson; sister, Doris Wyckoff; and brother, Richard “Zeke” Solomonson.
Jack was born in Holland, Mich., on Feb. 25, 1926, and lived in Elk Rapids for a few years before moving to Traverse City.
He was an multi sport letterman at Central High School.
Jack was in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was stationed in the Philippines. He served as a Communications Specialist, ECM coding machine and radio operator and teletype repair. He loved Morse Code.
In 1949 Jack and Vi moved to Mapleton for a “temporary part time job” at the Peninsula Telephone Company, which he operated with Vi for 62 years. Jack loved electronics and anything new. He prided himself in providing state of the art service for his subscribers and keeping one step ahead of the local competition by leading the area in providing dial service, Internet and cellular service. Jack was instrumental in bringing cellular service to the region in the 1980s. Jack always accepted invitations to explain the workings of the telephone to the school children.
Jack was active in the “Peninsula” community and a leader in several organizations. He coached grade school football at Old Mission School and St. Joe’s high school boys basketball.
He was past commander and charter member of the Old Mission American Legion Post 399 (60 years) and a member of the Traverse City Elks club. He held several board positions including the Rural Utilities Service Eastern Division, Telephone Association of Michigan, Independent Pioneer Telephone Association of Michigan, National Cellular Association, Peninsula Township Board and chairman of Cellular North Michigan Network. He also was an active member of the Peninsula Township Fire Department (Red Seven) for many years. He enjoyed golfing and was the initiator of the annual Rokos Ramble golf outing for family members.
Jack was always ready to lend a hand with projects on the Old Mission Peninsula. He was on-hand and shovel-ready for the building of the playground at the Old Mission Peninsula School and the building of the arena and stalls at the Bowers Harbor Park for the national Tennessee Walking Horse Shows. His latest project was on the committee dedicated to replacing the trees that once lined M-37 from Traverse City to Old Mission.
Legends, family stories and history was a passion for Jack. With his work as the phone man he had the opportunity to make many friends on the peninsula. In 1949 when he started working at the phone company many old timers told stories of the horse and wagon travel and the well-worn footpaths from Traverse City to the village of Old Mission. He served as a resource for several local authors of Peninsula history. He was pleased to present a book of stories and pictures collected from residents on the Old Mission Peninsula, a “Century of Service.” He also was proud to have located all the issues of “Letters from Home”. These were letters written to local WWII service people as a way to help the local armed forces keep in touch with what was happening back home. This was published by local resident, David R. Murray during World War II. Jack compiled the letters in book form for all to share (available at the History Center).
Funeral services for Jack will take place at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 2, 2013, at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home, with a visitation held one hour prior.
The family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the staff at Orchard Creek Supportive Care.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Legion Post 399 in Old Mission, the Old Mission Historical Society or the Parkinson’s Foundation.
Please sign Jack’s online guestbook at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com.