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5/31/1960 – 11/1/2021

Beloved father, son, brother, friend, and colleague, A.J.’s intellect and special brand of humor endeared him to the many lives he touched. From an early age, A.J.’s interests included photography, technology, music, sailing, skiing, and his beloved Michigan Wolverines. Summers spent exploring the woods at the family cabin in Northern Michigan sparked A.J.’s passion for the environment; he appreciated nature and was always seeking ways to understand, preserve and protect our valuable natural resources. A.J.’s inquisitive nature led to a lifelong love of learning. He graduated from East Grand Rapids High School in 1978, and earned undergraduate degrees in Geosciences and Economics from the University of Michigan, where he also obtained an MBA in Finance. He later earned a JD from the University of Chicago Law School. After starting his family and corporate law career in Chicago, A.J. founded an environmental law practice in Grand Rapids, where he pursued his passion for defending the environment and supporting affected communities. Over the past decade, A.J. has been a tenacious advocate for communities with drinking water supplies contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). His work as Managing Director of the PFAS Alliance led local, national, and global initiatives to raise public awareness, unite communities and combat PFAS chemicals that are linked to serious health concerns. A.J. will be lovingly remembered by his parents, Benjamin and Gretchen Birkbeck, his daughters, Allison and Sarah Birkbeck, their mother Catherine Birkbeck, sister Kathryn (Michael) DeNitto, brothers Daniel (Mandy) Birkbeck and Benjamin (Rhonda) Birkbeck, his many nieces, nephews and lifelong friends. A private celebration will take place next summer to remember a life taken too soon by cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests contributions to the A.J. Birkbeck Scholarship Fund established by the Michigan Environmental Council. The scholarship is open to any student at a Michigan college or university wanting to start or aid a community PFAS-based project. The students and projects awarded the scholarship must embody the essence of A.J. himself–a collaborator, a strategist, a protector, and a mentor.

To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign A.J.’s online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit:  www.MichiganCremation.com

Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids, (616) 452-3006.

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1 Condolence

  1. LJ Gould on July 22, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    I miss you now.
    Will miss you always.
    L



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