PIERSON– To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The report of Carl Paepke’s death was an exaggeration.”
Paepke, 86, of Pierson, has served as District 5 commissioner for Montcalm County since 1995. District 5 encompasses Maple Valley, Pierson and Pine townships.
Paepke has been battling lung cancer for some time and has been absent from recent Montcalm County Board of Commissioner meetings.
Montcalm County Controller-Administrator Chris Hyzer emailed all county department heads Saturday evening, stating, “I just wanted to inform you that Commissioner Paepke passed away tonight. I will provide you more details when I find out.”
The Montcalm County Republican Party forward Hyzer’s email at 10:55 a.m. this morning, addressed “to all Republicans and friends of Carl.”
But Paepke had not died.
Hyzer emailed all county department heads this morning, stating “I received information last night (that) was inaccurate. Commissioner Paepke did not pass away. I apologize for the information that I sent out last night.”
The Montcalm County Republican Party forwarded Hyzer’s second email at 11:39 a.m. this morning, stating, “Carl did not pass away. This was miss information (sic). Carl is still very much alive. We just heard this from his relation. I am glad his death was wrong.”
“It was inaccurate information,” Hyzer told The Daily News this afternoon.
Commissioner Ron Baker of Howard City said the miscommunication occurred Saturday. Baker was with a cousin of a friend who was with Papke’s daughter, Jeanne Poulsen, who is taking care of her father at his Pierson home.
“The friend who was with Carl’s daughter texted information over to the cousin and they told me that he had passed away,” Baker said. “I didn’t get direct confirmation, but it was through the line of family communication.”
Baker said he passed the information on to Hyzer.
“It was a misunderstanding,” Baker said. “It was misinformation. I feel really bad that I was in the middle of it, to be honest.”
Paulsen said she doesn’t know how the inaccurate information originated. She said her father is bedridden, but hanging on.
“He’s doing fairly well, considering,” she said.
Paepke wanted to speak to The Daily News for a few moments, despite his condition.
“I want to thank everyone for their prayers and their thoughts,” he said. “Thank you. I hope to live a long life.”