Longtime Lakeview-area activist dies

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 6:56 pm on Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Milford "Mel" Molitor

CATO TOWNSHIP — Milford “Mel” Molitor was driven by positive energy throughout his life.
He used his time and talents to serve his family, church and community in numerous ways.
The Cato Township man died Thursday at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. He was 83 years old.
Molitor was a longtime trustee on the Cato Township Board. Clerk Louis Morse said the board will appoint someone to fill Molitor’s term, which expires in November 2012.
“He’d been a member of the board for a good many years and he contributed a lot,” Morse said. “He’ll be missed.”
Born Sept. 26, 1928, in Grand Rapids, Molitor graduated from Creston High School, then served in the U.S. Army from 1948 to 1950. He was stationed in Japan, where he was assigned prison guard duty, watching over Japan officials who were incarcerated for war crimes.
Molitor married Abby Mayhew on Feb. 11, 1950. They were married more than 56 years and had four sons, three daughters, 17 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. One daughter, Katrina, was adopted from Macedonia, along with her family, to protect them during wartime in the 1990s. One son, Todd, passed away. Abby died on Nov. 11, 2006.
Molitor took over his grandmother’s rural Lakeview farm in the 1950s. He also went to work for Lamb Oil Co. and took over ownership of what later became Amble Oil Co. when he was in his 70s. Molitor did numerous odd jobs during his career, including testing milk on cows throughout Montcalm County.
“My dad was an exceptional guy,” said son Drew Molitor of Amble. “He worked hard, he wasn’t afraid of it and he pushed us. He was always a positive guy. He always said, ‘Keep a positive attitude. No matter what you do, you’ve got to work at it. If anybody asks you how you’re doing, say you’re doing great, because everybody wants to feed on the negativity.’”
Molitor was a member of the Congregational United Church of Christ in Lakeview for more than 55 years. He served on the Lakeview Lions Club, the Spectrum Health Kelsey Hospital Board, the Montcalm Center for Behavioral Health Board and the Lakeview District Fire Department Board. He emceed Montcalm County 4-H Fair livestock auctions for years.
Molitor and his wife were known for hosting open houses to raise funds for mental health organizations and Special Olympics, as well as inviting a variety of people home for holiday dinners.
“We had the largest family in Montcalm County,” said son Scott Molitor of Lakeview. “We had Thanksgiving with people we didn’t even know. We’ve got a huge family. There might only be six of us kids, but he touched a lot of people.”
Molitor stayed active until the end of his life. Spending time with his children and grandchildren brought him the most joy.
“There’s a lot of people out there that liked him and there’s a lot of people that’ll carry on what he was doing,” Scott Molitor said. “He liked everybody. If you knew him, you liked him. He was the epitome of optimism. He loved a good joke better than anybody I ever met and he had a story about nothing. He was involved in everything. He never relinquished his drive to help. He loved it. He thrived on it. He loved people.
“He was a good role model, I’ll tell you that,” he added “I’m going to miss him every minute of every day. He was a big part of my life.”
A memorial service for Molitor will be 11 a.m. Saturday at New Life United Methodist Church in Six Lakes. Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Friday at Congregational United Church of Christ in Lakeview.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Abby and Todd Molitor Scholarship Fund or to Congregational United Church of Christ in Lakeview.

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