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Erwin G. Clahassey, M.D., age 93, died peacefully at home on July 19, 2010. Born on June 16, 1917 in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Dr. Erwin and Augusta (Wegner) Eveleth. Later adopted by his stepfather, he took his name, Clahassey. A child of the Depression, Erwin was adventurous and independent, and as a youth made his way to the Olympic games in Los Angeles in 1932, and later to Alaska where he worked in the lumber camps, canneries, and the CCC. While there, Erwin attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks for one year. At that time, student housing was a cabin in the woods you built yourself. He played goalie on the UA hockey team, and maintained a lifelong interest in the game, skating for pleasure well into his eighties. He proudly mentored one of his sons, and two of his grandsons in the game.

Erwin transferred to the University of Michigan to finish his undergraduate studies, then entered the Medical School. There he met his wife of almost 66 years, Olga, a surgical nurse at UM hospital. She survives. Erwin served as a doctor in the Navy during World War II. Upon leaving the service, he entered an ophthalmology residency program in Chicago, then another at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, before setting up his practice in Grand Rapids, where he worked for over 40 years. He was affiliated with St. Marys Hospital and Blodgett Hospital.

He is survived by Olga and six children: Erwin B., Katherine (Richard Coffey), Karen (Sherry Redding), Diane (Robert Riehle), David, and Donald and seven grandchildren; Claire Cameron Ponitz, Brandon Clahassey, Thomas Coffey, Kayla Clahassey, Curtis Clahassey, Lynn Clahassey, and Bryan Clahassey.

He was an avid reader who was curious about all aspects of the world. There were always books galore in the house. He loved to take his young family on camping vacations, mostly to the mountains of Montana, and then later to ski in Colorado. He enjoyed boating on Reeds Lake, teaching his kids how to sail and water ski. He was an enthusiastic supporter of his childrens and grandchildrens various athletic endeavors, and was a reliable fan at their games. His was a life built around family.

He retired from his practice in 1994 but remained busy with his many hobbies and projects. He was always ready to lend a helping hand to friends and family, whatever they needed. Whether it was teaching his kids algebra or how to whistle through their teeth, touching up a dented car door, or reading stories at all those bedtimes, he was there. He was a wonderful dad and grandfather. He will be greatly missed, but always remembered for his kindness, patience, generosity, and for his boundless curiosity. And for the ever-present twinkle in his eye.

The family will greet friends at a memorial service at Mayflower Congregational Church, 2345 Robinson Road, SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49506 on Saturday, July, 31, at 1:00 pm. Cremation has taken place. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hospice of Michigan or the charity of your choice.


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