SHS Class of 1971 - Part II


The Saline High School Class of 1971 had 149 students in June of 1971. By June 2021, twenty-six (26) of our friends will not be attending our 50th high school reunion, having left our world way too soon.  I apologize to our classmates whose stories could not be shared in this story.

Here is a brief look at those who have passed away.

Tom Bailey – played two years on the Hornet basketball team, Tom died at the age of 26 in 1979, following a long illness. Medical researchers at the University of Michigan gained some insight into the baffling disease he struggled with his entire life, according to a story in the Saline Reporter. Tom lost both his parents in early childhood and lived with a variety of relatives, finally settling with an aunt and uncle who lived in Saline. After graduation, Tom attended Ferris State and Western Michigan Universities until failing health forced him to withdraw. Among his friends, Tom was sometimes affectionately referred to as Tom “Amy, Onsted & Basketball” Bailey.

Jim Bilyea – died November 8, 1994 at the age of 41. Following graduation, Jim graduated from Ferris State University with a Doctorate in Pharmacy. Following in his father’s footsteps, Jim became a pharmacist in Lake City, Michigan, the hometown of his wife Marian. Jim married in 1979 and went on to have eight children.

Phil Burkhardt – died July 28, 2007 at the age of 54 following a short illness. Phil served in the Vietnam War as a member of the U.S. Army. Following his honorary discharge, he worked at General Motors until his retirement. He lived in Manchester and enjoyed spending time doing things with his children. Phil had twin daughters, Marissa and Maria.

Gary Busha – died October 10, 2010 at the age of 57. Gary married in 1976 to Becky and had two children, Adam and Robyn, and they all survive him. Gary was a member of the Saline American Legion Post #322, the UAW Local #735 and loved playing euchre with the Bridgewater Euchre Club.

Steven Drake – died on April 5, 2017 at the age of 63 of kidney failure. Steve lived in Manchester but wintered in Arizona. He worked for 30 years at R & B Machine Tool until it closed
and then for five years at Ann Arbor Machine. Steve married Terri and had two daughters, Michelle and Tina.

Phil Duva died in 2013. A classmate who deserves more.

Brett Fischbach – died October 24, 2007 at the age of 54. Brett lived a very colorful, interesting life. Following graduation, he volunteered to serve in the US Army. He was honorably discharged in 1974. He spent the next 13 years in the Merchant Marine. Brett earned college degrees from Central Michigan University in Zoology and History, eventually earning Master’s degrees in both. He taught undergraduate courses in ichthyology, fisheries biology, limnology and zoology and served as assistant curator of the University’s Museum of Cultural and Natural History.

Brett received his Able Seaman’s certificate and worked on the Great Lakes for many years. He married in 1983 but his wife died in 1991 following a long illness. He remarried in 2005 to Jennifer. He became editor of the weekly newspaper the Lake County Star. Brett loved playing chess, once defeating the Mexican National Master because he “made a poor move at about the eighth move of the match”.

Gary Freeman – died on May 2, 2019 at the age of 65. He was an electrician and a member of the IBEW Union Local 252. He enjoyed bowling, riding his Harley, Tiger Baseball, Michigan Football and volunteering at Friends of the Ann Arbor Eagles, Ann Arbor Moose #1253 and the Dexter American Legion Post 557. Gary married his wife Margo and had two sons and three stepdaughters.

Bob Greenfield – died in October 8, 2003 at the age of 50. He was never married and worked as a printer.

Bob Griffin – died in 2016. Another classmate who deserves more.

Doug Harris – died on August 10, 2020 at the age of 66. Doug was married to Vicki, and had a son and daughter. He worked at Stanley’s Black & Decker, formerly known as Sweepsters in Dexter. He was a well known umpire in recreational softball leagues throughout Washtenaw County and a long-time usher for the University of Michigan for football, basketball and baseball.

Ken Holland – died on October 22, 1987 at the age of 34 in Rhode Island. Additional information not available but clearly he deserves more.

Penny (Joslin) LeMaster - died on June 14, 2018 at the age of 65 in Warsaw, Missouri. She lived in Montana with her husband Terry for over 30 years and worked as a cook at the Stillwater Community Hospital before retiring to Missouri. She had three children, a son and two daughters.

Larry Kruger – died after a long battle with cancer on July 5, 2009 at the age of 55. He worked at Sheridan Books as a production planner for 25 years. He was married for 33 years to his wife Mary and had two children, Eric and Sarah. Larry was fond of restoring old John Deere tractors and bass fishing.

Brad McTaggartdied on March 18, 2009 at the age of 55. Brad was married to Thais Corrine and had three children, Isaac, Bradley and Charity. Brad lived in Tecumseh and was a carpenter.

Joanne (Noye) Brown died on July 17, 1999 at the age of 45. More information was not available but Joanne deserves more.

Phil Ormsby
- died on March 18, 2010 at the age of 57. He worked for several years for the City of Saline, retiring to the northern Michigan town of Harrison. Phil was never married and enjoyed repairing automobiles and hunting. Phil was a pretty good skater and hockey player in his youth.

Michael Reed – died on October 22, 1984 at the age of 32. He married Charlene Whipple (Class of ’72) and had two daughters, Tammy and Laurie. He worked at R & B Machine Tool as an electrician for more than 14 years.

Michael Shafer – died on August 12, 2007 at the age of 54. He was married in 1998 to Joan and she preceded him in death less than a month before he died. Mike worked at R & B Machine Tool for 28 years. He had a daughter, Crystal.

Dennis Taylor – died on April 25, 2006 at the age of 52. He proudly served in the United States Air Force. The rest of Dennis’ story is not known and he most assuredly deserves more.

Jackie Tobias Reimold – died on August 31, 2016 at the age of 63. She retired after a long career at the University of Michigan. She married her husband Alfred in 1976 who survives her, as well as her two children Alyssa and Chad. She loved spending time with her children and grandchildren, going up north, cooking and crafting. Jackie struggled with Myositis for several years and had asked that donations be made to the Myositis Organization for continued research.

Donald Van Doren – died on May 26, 2008 at the age of 54. After graduation, he attended culinary school in Ann Arbor and then worked in Hawaii. He found a home in Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas and worked as a dealer for Caesar’s and Bellagio Casinos for over 25 years. Donald married Julie and was married for 21 years. Following graduation, Donald was nominated by Congressman Marvin Esch to the Military Academy at West Point.

Robert Vincent – died on December 8, 2006 at the age of 53 a result of a single car accident in Missouri. He was employed as a heavy equipment operator for Hessling Construction Company in Dexter, Mo.

Debbie Williams – died in 2008. More info isn’t known.  I wish there was more.

Steve Wilson – died in 2019. More info is not known.  I wish there was more to share.

Tom Young – died on January 20, 2002 at the age of 46. More information is not known.

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