Source: Sherman Publications

Community rallies ‘round Orion family

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

August 03, 2011

Orion Area residents have proven themselves a generous and compassionate bunch.

One July 17, at Eagles Aerie 3613, friends and family gathered to remember Marty Lietke, an area man who recently passed away. He is survived by his wife, Patty, who is afflicted by Multiple Sclerosis. Lietke spent his final days working, when he could, to support her and his two sons - Brandon, 25 and Nate, 32 - but with Patty requiring constant observation, Lietke found himself trapped between a rock and a hard place.

Then came his untimely passing.

Yet thanks to the friends Lietke accumulated during his life, nearly $15,000 was raised at the event, $5,000 more than organizers Chris Shell and John Ranville expected.

John Leach, Lake Orion resident and event participant called the outcome and event a “true community effort.”

“A lot of people donated their time and that’s especially impressive because the heat that day got to around 95 degrees,” said Leach. “The Lake Orion Men’s Softball League (which Lietke belonged to) helped out by parking cars, Bill Rzadko of Oxford donated his billboard space to put up notifications for the event and the bands - I don’t know how we could have gotten people to stick around all day without the bands and even they helped out. Jack Hutchison, Eagles Trustee, put an awful lot of effort in and another guy, Billy Toll, made contact with the banner guy, got the banners for free, got all the bands together, and organized the entertainment.

“There’s so many people, it’s hard to thank them all.”

Just under 500 people attended the event, which grossed $19,000. One Eagle member, who wished to remain anonymous, said the event was really more of a homecoming.

“It was just an outpouring of love,” said the Eagle. “The three groups that stood out for me were the Eagles, the Lake Orion Softball League and the Lake Orion American Legion, which really kind of came out and led the way in donations.”

Friends and family were not the only attendees of the event. The Eagle went on describe area residents and companies that participated in donations that had no relation to the Lietke family.

“In the middle of event, out of nowhere comes this gal who stops by and she seems like a classic everywoman,” described The Eagle, briefly tearing up. “She say’s ‘I don’t know these people, but my sister had MS, and I would just like to donate,’ and then she wrote a check for around 100 bucks. I think she even gave another hundred to the two Lietke boys. These things can have a real jaded feel to them, especially during these economic times, but I didn’t see anyone leave without a smile.

“These people stuck by Lietke just like he stuck by his wife and I just find that really touching.”

Leach knew Lietke since the late 1970’s from shuffleboard at the now closed Wagon Wheel, located on Broadway in downtown Lake Orion. He also worked with him as a carpenter in the early 1990’s. He stressed his apologies if he forgot to thank anyone, though a list of contributors can be found on Page 9.

The Eagle used to play softball with Lietke, and his son remains good friends with the Lietke boys.