ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of Rockford City Manager Michael Young is responding to the outpouring support following his death.
Michael Young died Jan. 27, two days after suffering a stroke. He was 48 years old.
In a statement sent to 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday, Melissa Young said:
We are deeply grateful for the community has shown us in the past week. We have been surrounded by love shown through the many visitors and incredible care at the hospital, delicious meals prepared for us, beautiful floral tributes and by countless memories shared at Michael’s visitation. The heartfelt signs and community’s presence during the funeral procession touched our hearts more than you will ever know. We truly feel and have been lifted up by your prayers. It is obvious that Michael touched many lives and you, in turn, have touched ours. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Young’s private, family-only funeral took place Monday morning at Lady of Consolation Church. Before the service, the funeral procession cut through downtown Rockford so community members could say their final farewells. The city also closed its office in remembrance of Young.
Young held many titles: coach, friend, father and husband, among others. Professionally, it was Rockford city manager.
Young studied at Grand Valley State University before working in Sand Lake and Greenville. In 1995, he came to Rockford, replacing former city manager Daryl Delabbio.
“When he came to Rockford he was young and everyone said, ‘Well, he’s not going to stay around that long. It’s a just a resume-builder or career-builder.’ And I — having been in Rockford for 11 years — I said, ‘Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if he outlasted me and spent a much longer time here.’ And he did,” Delabbio, who’s now the Kent County administrator, told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday night.
Young spent 20 years as Rockford’s city manager, remaining though several changes on city council. It’s a rare kind of longevity that Delabbio said requires three things: leadership, relationship-building and passion.
“A passion for your profession and a passion for the community that you serve,” said Delabbio, who was visibly upset over Young’s passing.
Young’s achievements include, most notably, the construction of a wastewater treatment system in collaboration with local townships, along with the development of downtown Rockford. City officials there call him a visionary.
But his impact was felt far beyond just the workplace. He was a family man and a great friend.
“He was a great guy. He was outgoing, friendly. Just genuinely a good man,” Delabbio said.
“I was shocked,” Delabbio added. He said Young was physically active and took care of his health. “I went to the hospital this morning and visited with him, talked with his wife and his son. It’s tragic.”
The Michael F. Young, ’90, ’94 Memorial Endowed Scholarship has been set up in his honor at Grand Valley State University.
The Rockford City Council will meet on Feb. 8 to appoint an interim city manager. Chief of Public Safety Dave Jones will continue to work directly with Mayor Gerald Coon and the city council on day-to-day operations.
Young’s wife, Melissa, issued the following statement Wednesday:
“Our hearts are broken today as we mourn the sudden passing of our devoted husband, dedicated father,and loyal friend. Michael was a passionate cheerleader for our community. Not only has he served Rockford for the past twenty years, but we have made our home here and raised three children. He worked tirelessly for the city he loved and celebrated our community’s successes with true enthusiasm.
“I could not be more proud of this man I have loved since junior high. Michael was fiercely loved and will be missed incredibly by his family and friends. We are grateful for the outpouring of support by so many in our community, as well as the tremendous care he received at Spectrum Health-Butterworth.”
Visitation for Young is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Pederson Funeral Home, located at 127 N. Monroe Street. A funeral procession with a police escort will begin at 10:30 a.m. Monday the funeral home and end at Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church, located at 4865 11 Mile Road NE. The funeral service is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.