Gary Swinton Madison took his last breath here on earth, Sunday, July 18th, 2021, at the age of 80 while resting comfortably and listening to classical music.
Gary was a true craftsman, having perfected skills in woodworking, mechanics, and backpacking amongst other trades. He was well known at local restaurants and sporting goods stores, Manitou Island Transit, Harbor Light Community Chapel, and by many in the community who benefited from his kindness and generosity when learning of their unmet needs.
The son of Vincent Smith Madison and Mary Jane Swinton, Gary was born on 01/18/41 in Detroit, Michigan. Gary was blessed to learn, grow and play alongside his three siblings, twin Stanley and sisters Nancy and Gayle. In his youth, Gary and his family enjoyed spending time at their cottage on Lake Charlevoix. He shared fond (and not so fond!) memories of his time working on landscaping and completing home improvement projects at the family home alongside his father and brother. Before he had a drivers license, he could fly an airplane. Gary maintained a lifelong love for aviation, participating in the Civil Air Patrol as a young man.
At the age of 19, Gary had his first child, David. Gary spent his early adult years attending the Michigan Career Institute where he studied automotive mechanics. Soon after, he entered the Army, serving in the Vietnam War. Upon returning stateside, he eventually landed in Petoskey, Michigan where he worked as an automotive mechanic and later on a mink farm. While in Petoskey, Gary met Janet Cobane and the two developed a fond relationship. Together, they had one daughter, Carrie. After some cajoling from friends, Gary returned to the Detroit area, where he continued his career as an automotive mechanic. While in Detroit, Gary met Kathleen "Kathy" Rae Hunter. The two married and began a family, bringing daughters Jenni and Katie into the world. Gary and Kathy were married 19 years when their relationship was cut short, by Kathy's passing in 1991.
As Gary worked through his grief and began planning to raise his daughters without their mother, he returned to the Petoskey area, bringing Jenni and Katie with him and established roots at Harbor Light Community Chapel where he serviced the churches fleet of vehicles and equipment, taught student's automotive mechanics and assisted in the woodshop, rekindling his love of woodworking. Gary also found his way back to Janet. The two reconnected and eventually married, raising Jenni and Katie together.
Throughout most of Gary and Janet's marriage, Gary faced ongoing and growing medical concerns, many directly related to his time in the Army. He eventually learned his health problems were the result of exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam. Before his health concerns became too challenging, Gary spent many years taking his family backpacking on North and South Manitou Islands. He was an adept outdoorsman, teaching and leading anyone willing to learn. These trips were near and dear to his soul and created the most remarkable memories for his nephew, children and many grandchildren. In his later years, Gary went blind. His resiliency became evident as he and his family worked diligently to secure the tools, resources, and education he needed to maintain some level of independence.
As Gary and Janet aged, and health issues became more prevalent, the two moved to Tennessee where they spent several years together. When the challenges of their health became too abundant, Janet returned to Northern Michigan and Gary stayed in Tennessee, both surrounded by friends and family who could assist them with life's new challenges. Gary's love for Janet was fierce. He called often, was able to make the long drive to visit once, and spoke of what would be needed for them to be able to live together once again. In January of 2021, Gary moved to Assisted Living, where he remained until his passing.
Gary was proceeded in death by his beloved wives Kathleen Madison, Janet Madison, and his precious great-granddaughter, Audrey Burge. Gary is survived by siblings Stanley (Sharron), Nancy (Jerry Agnew) Fitzgerald and Gayle (Ed Hinkelman) Madison; children David McDaniel, Carrie (Lloyd) Swadling, Jenni (Jake) Evans, and Katie (Mike) Toepke; grandchildren Lloyd (Megan), Amber and Paul Swadling, Savanah (John) Cool, Jacob and Hailey Evans, Hannah (Will) Burge, William and Joanna Toepke; great-grandchildren Alayna, Hunter, Trevari and Layla Swadling, Annabelle Dickson and Keely Cool, though his twin brother Stan passed from this earth just three short days after Gary.
To honor Gary's wishes, he will be cremated, and ashes will be buried alongside his mother and father. A service to honor Gary and Stan will be held at First Congregational Church of Charlevoix, 101 State Street, Charlevoix, Michigan at 1:00 August 9, 2021, followed by internment at Brookside Cemetery, Charlevoix, Michigan.
A reception for family members will follow at The Weathervane Restaurant, 106 Pine River Lane, Charlevoix.
SPRING HILL MEMORIAL FUNERAL HOME. www.springhill-memorial.com 931 486-0059