TRAVERSE CITY — Richard “Dick Forton, of Traverse City, passed away on Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. He was 89. His daughter Lynn was with him. Richard was born on Jan. 5, 1925, and was a lifelong resident of Traverse City.
After graduating from Traverse City Central High School in 1943 he served in the U.S. Army for two years during World War II. Years later he would say, “Other than the two years I spent in the service, you could put a half dollar over Traverse City on a map and that’s where I spent most of my life.”
When he returned home from the service he met and married Barbara Ann West. They were married on March 20, 1948, the same wedding date as his parents, Gerald and Nellie Forton in 1918 and the same wedding date as Barbara’s parents, Peter and Beatrice Jensen in 1942.
Richard worked for the City of Traverse City for 41 years. He started as a garbage collector and worked his way up to superintendent of the Waste Water Treatment Plant. Along the way, he worked as a water treatment operator, office assistant and as the assistant superintendent under his father, Gerald Forton. As the population of Traverse City grew he oversaw the implementation of many projects that expanded and upgraded the operation of the plant. Years after retiring in 1987 Richard delighted in reminiscing about things like manholes on Front Street that were problematic back in ‘67 or explaining how water got from the bay to the city water tower and especially about what happened to the beaches and water temperature when the wind came out of the north.
Richard enjoyed tinkering in the yard and in his home. Whenever anyone asked him what he was making he would tell them, “A doohickey for a thing-a-ma-bob.” He was referred to as “Macgyver” by his family and friends and could fix just about anything with a roll of duct tape and a metal hanger.