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Old friends rally to support family of deceased

June 15, 2011 - Tragedy can strike anywhere, and Lake Orion is not exempt from this truism.

Martin Lietke, 60, passed away April 9, leaving behind his wife, Patty, and two sons, Nathan, 32, and Brandon, 25. Yet hard times have just begun for the Lietke family. Patty, who is battling Multiple Sclerosis, is bedridden and in need of constant attention, something Martin used to provide.

Clarkston resident and Martin's childhood friend, Chris Shell, 61, called Martin one of his closest friends, and described events that prove the declaration. They grew up together on Waldon Road, attended the same schools through Lake Orion High School, and their children (Shell's daughter Rainy and Brandon) are even planning a wedding for July 22. Shell saw the need to help out, and together with Martin's other childhood friend - Village Council Member John Ranville, 61 - are planning a fundraiser to aid Martin's family in their time of need.

"He used to be able to take Patty to the hospital himself, but after a while, Crittenton had to take her to the hospital for things like feeding tube replacements," said Shell. "Until after his passing, we just didn't realize how dire their financial situation was, but all this time he was able to hold on to the house and keep Patty's caretaker."

Ranville also reflected on Martin's relationship with his wife.

"Marty, for years and years, was not able to take on a job that wasn't local because he couldn't go too far from Patty," said Ranville. "He could leave her at home for the first several years, just checking on her at lunch time, but when it became worse, I think the stress just burnt him out.

"He never took a break, and he didn't smoke."

Ranville said the fundraiser started out when a number of Martin's friends gathered at his viewing. They quickly formed a committee, decided to raise some money, and thanks to word of mouth, are expecting between 500 and 700 people in attendance. The event, now planned to take place at the Eagles Club on Clarkston Road, will feature 10 live, local bands organized by a professional sound engineer from Stoney Creek Studios, a wide assortment of food including a pig roast, and drinks from a cash bar.

A silent auction will also be held.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles, Lions Club members, and the American Legion all donated funds to the project, and will have some members in attendance. PNC Bank has also joined the list of supporters, and thanks to a special account set up at the bank, donations can be made by simply deposing funds at their branches.

Martin was a licensed builder, and together with Shell helped build the Lakeside Apartments among other projects in downtown Lake Orion. He attended Oakland University, and was described by Shell as a mathematical genius.

The event is planned for July 17 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

For more information, call Sandy Shephard at (248) 892-8650 or email her at s.shephard@comcast.net.

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