HERSEY — Ferris Leach, 99, of Hersey, passed away on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, in Big Rapids.
He was born on Oct. 11, 1913, one of nine children born to Sam and Laura Leach, in a little log house on the bank of Cat Creek — where Cat Creek and Pussy Run join. His formal education started at the Cat Creek one-room school, where his father had once taught, and ended at Hersey High School.
He was the father or step-father to six children, Jack Wilson, Judy Hays, Bonita “Bonnie” Gawron, Sally Meier, Mark “Toby” Leach and Kristie Husby, who preceded him in death. A grandson, Tom Hays also preceded him in death.
In 1937, he married Dorothy Pontz, who passed away in 1953, and was later married in 1954 to Jean McKinley Wilson, who passed away in 2007. Ferris’ entire working career was dedicated to some phase of agriculture. He farmed and milked cows for 20 years, spent a couple of years as program specialist and managed the government-owned corn storage program for the State of Michigan.
After a hitch as director of public relations for the Michigan Elevator Exchange, it was off to Hillsdale as county executive director for the Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation office, until his retirement in 1976.
In his 99 years, he found some time for public service too. He helped organize the Osceola County Farm Bureau and served as its first president from 1945 to 1948.
He also served as president of the Federal Land Bank Association, which served several counties in central Michigan and he was chairman of the Osceola-Lake Soil Conservation District when the Good Year Tire and Rubber Co. recognized the district for its outstanding service to soil and water conservation.
He served two years as president of the Michigan Association of Soil Conservation District and 18 years on the board of directors of West Michigan Area Agency on Aging, with six years as chairman.
He was one of the founders of the Osceola County Community Foundation and served on the board of directors during its first 10 years of existence. Ferris was a past president of Reed City Rotary Club, Past Master of Hersey Lodge No. 211 F&AM, past president of Michigan Feeder Calf Council and chairman of the board of West Michigan Beef Breeders Association.
He was a member of the North Central Michigan Educational Partnership, sponsored by Ferris State University and the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District, whose mission was to establish a math-science center, which is now located in Big Rapids, and was co-chairman of its “Excellence in Education Taskforce.”
He was a past member of the Osceola County Sheriff Posse, Osceola County Farm Bureau, Reed City Rotary Club and the Congregational Church. He loved his family, friends, farming and flowers.
Funeral services were held Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, at the Pruitt-Livingston Funeral Home in Reed City, with the Rev. Dawn Pooley officiating. Burial will be at Hersey Village Cemetery.
A memorial contribution may be made in his name to the Osceola County Community Foundation Ferris Leach Fund, P.O. Box 37, Reed City, MI, 49677.