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Obituary: Thomas Joseph Rozich

Lac La Belle

Thomas Joseph Rozich, born on August 11, 1943 in Highland Park, Michigan, was the son of the late Joseph and Agnes Rozich, passed away unexpectedly at his residence in Lac LaBelle, Michigan on April 6, 2018. Tom spent his entire life in Michigan having grown up in Painesdale, then living as a troll in Lansing and Cadillac for many years before returning to his roots and residing in Houghton, and most recently, on Lac La Belle.

Tom is survived by his son Thomas Joseph Huron Rozich and grandson Quinton Joseph Rozich of Au Gres, Michigan; daughter Michelle Anne Rozich and son-in-law Ryan Molitor of New York, New York; and daughter Kathryn Marie Rozich of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Tom was very proud of his children and would often brag about their accomplishments. Quinton held a very special place in his heart and Tom shared his passion of fishing and the outdoors with his grandson. Tom is also survived by brother, Patrick Anthony Rozich of Hancock, Michigan; and sister, Carol Ann Lorenz of Iron Mountain, Michigan, along with several nieces and nephews.

Tom graduated from Jeffers High School in Painesdale, Michigan in 1961. Tom attended Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry in 1965 and later obtained his Master of Science degree in Biology in 1972, after serving in the Army from 1966 to 1968. Tom was also a proud member of the Michigan Technological University basketball team from 1962 to 1965.

Tom started his professional career in 1972 working for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  He retired in 2008 after 36 years of service to the State of Michigan after being a leader in conservation efforts across the state and protecting Michigan’s most important asset – the Great Lakes. Most of his career was spent as a Fisheries Biologist, and he worked his way up the ranks. Tom spent several years working for the Real Estate Division as a Lands Analyst, taking him to all corners of the state. This made him an expert in the geography of Michigan. In 1997, Tom was promoted to Fisheries Supervisor and he spent the final 11 years of his career in this leadership position. After retiring from the DNR, he was appointed by the Governor of Michigan to serve as an Advisor for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

One of Tom’s biggest accomplishments at the DNR was his 1998 publication of his Manistee River Assessment that led to a project focused on restoring the river and fish habitat. The Manistee River was Tom’s favorite river in Michigan and it was an honor for him to be able to make such an impact that will last for generations to come.

Within the DNR, Tom was highly respected not just for his vast Fisheries knowledge, but also for his broad range of expertise in many areas of conservation. Tom enjoyed sharing his knowledge, and in the later years of his career, was a mentor to many young Biologists. Long after retirement, Tom continued to provide advice to his former colleagues in the DNR. Tom was truly a conservation giant in the State of Michigan, and his knowledge and passion for the environment was exceptional.

Tom had many hobbies, most involving his love of nature, the outdoors and sports. Tom was an avid hunter and trapper and excelled in sports. Tom enjoyed playing basketball, baseball and volleyball. Yet Tom’s true love was fishing.  Fishing came naturally to Tom and he spent most of his youth in the fishing holes around Painesdale, keeping his secret spots a secret. Tom also enjoyed his time as a First Mate aboard the Sandpiper, a Lake Michigan charter boat out of Onekama, Michigan.

Tom enjoyed sharing his stories and knowledge of fish, the environment, nature, birds, flora, trees, wildlife, and geology with friends and acquaintances at the local watering holes. These stories were frequently featured in the Daily Mining Gazette in a special column called “Biological Bits”. Tom was in the process of compiling all of his stories to be published and was very close to seeing his first book published. Tom’s children will work on fulfilling his dream of publishing a book and making sure his legacy lives on and his knowledge of nature is shared with many.

In lieu of flowers, the family would like to ask that donations be made to the Conservation Resource Alliance, 10850 E Traverse Hwy #1180, Traverse City, MI 49684 or to the Michigan Tech Fund / Men’s Basketball Enrichment Fund and/or Women’s Basketball programs in Tom’s name.

A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 21, 2018, at Holy Family Parish in South Range, with Fr. John Martignon as celebrant.  Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday at the Mountain View Mortuary in South Range, and from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. on Saturday in the church.  Arrangements are being handled by Antila Funeral Service, Inc.  Online condolences may be expressed to the family at antilafuneral.com.

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