Flags at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Michigan flown at half-staff
Spring will eventually arrive in the great northern Michigan golf country. But the passing of a good man and loyal advocate for the Native peoples of northern Michigan has left many there feeling a little less springy this year.
On March 30, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Associate Judge Jim Genia died after a long fight with chronic illness.
Jim was 48 years old, a devoted husband, and the father of two-year-old twins. After graduating from Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, he became a staunch defender of Native treaty rights, dedicating himself to giving back to the Native communities, first in Minnesota and then in Michigan. He was one of the first Odawa tribal citizens to graduate from law school, and was named one of Mitchell’s top 100 all-time graduates.
Jim was also an old college friend of mine. I remember him most for his unflagging good humor, sly grin, and easy laugh. He always made others laugh, too. I wish we had kept in touch through the years.
Over at The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, which is owned by another Native American band in the Traverse City area, Jim’s life and work were honored.
“The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians noted Judge Genia’s passing with sorrow,” said J. Michael DeAgostino, public relations manager for the resort. “In fact, they marked his passing with flag honors (flying flags at half-staff) on Tuesday, April 9 at all Grand Traverse Band facilities, including the Resort. We communicated to all of the Resort’s employees the reason for half-staff flags that day.”
I don’t know if Jim played golf, or even ever set foot on a course. But I do know that many, many people in northern Michigan—home of some of the best golf and gaming in America—will miss him tremendously.
There is no good way to say “good bye” in Odawa (none that I know of, anyway). So, “Bama api gi-waabamin,” Jim. See you later.
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