Merritt Honbaum


Chelsea, Michigan

Was born April 20, 1936, the son of Willard and Emma (Jones) Honbaum.  As a child, Merritt lived in Hamburg until his father passed in 1943.  At that time the family moved to the Chelsea area, where he spent the rest of his life.

Becoming the man of the family at such an early age, Merritt learned good work ethics, which he carried throughout his life.  From age 9 he held various jobs, including a paper route, cleaning chinchilla cages, picking strawberries for Ewald’s, and weeding gladiolus for Gaunt’s, just to name a few.

At 15, while at Harper Pontiac he worked his way up from car washer to transmission specialist by age 17.  After high school, Merritt acquired his chauffer’s license, began driving school bus for Chelsea School District and hauling milk for Merkel’s.

On May 9, 1959 he married Arlene M Lesser.  Together in 1965, they opened the Sinclair Gas Station (Merritt’s Service) at North Lake.  In 1970, they established North Lake Sales and Service, where they spent the next 20 years.  Merritt’s interest and love for cars was the foundation of his career –  He could fix anything. Along with servicing cars and selling Massey Ferguson lawn mowers, they acquired a Rupp dealership, sold and serviced snowmobiles and mini bikes, and later added boats. They expanded the business when they built a storage barn for boats, cars and golf carts.  In 1991, they sold the business and continued hauling and winterizing boats until spring of 2017, when he decided to call it quits.

From 1977-1988 he served as the Dexter Township zoning inspector, and in 2000 served as the Lyndon Township ordinance officer, until retiring in 2017.

He enjoyed family trips, boating, snowmobiling, wood working, and restoring antique cars.  He also loved building things – he and Arlene built their family home, where they’ve lived for nearly 50 years.  He was a member of the North Lake United Methodist Church, serving on many committees, a member of the Chelsea Rod and Gun club for over 55 years, a past member of the Chelsea Classic Car Cruisers, and a founding member of the Inverness Snowmobile Club.

Merritt cherished spending time with his family. He and Arlene were married for 59 years, and she survives.  They have three daughters; Debbie (Jeffrey) Bourdon of Dexter, Kathy (David) Devine of Commerce Twp, and Laurie (Kevin) Appier of Traverse City. Also surviving are seven grandchildren: Travis (Lizzy) Bourdon, Brittany (Eddy) Racine, Taylor Devine, Kenzie Devine, Evelyn Appier, Britney (Omar) Kahn, and Garrett Appier.   Four great grandchildren; Ridge, Raegan, Sutton, and Bindi.  Also survived by sister Marilyn Elkins of Livermore, CA, brother-in-law Carl (Betty) Lesser of Dexter, sister-in-law Carol Lesser of Dexter, along with several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by sister-in-law Mary (Leonard) Burmeister and brother-in-law Norwin Lesser.

Funeral services will take place June 29, 2018 at 2pm, from the Staffan-Mitchell Funeral Home, Chelsea, with Pastor Todd Jones officiating. The family will receive friends on Wednesday June 27 from 6-8 pm, Thursday June 28, 2-8 pm and Friday 1-2pm.

Memorial contributions may be made to the North Lake United Methodist Church building fund, or the Chelsea Rod and Gun club

Celebration of life at their home following the service.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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