CADILLAC — Donald Charles Samardich, of Cadillac, passed away on January 25, 2019 at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City. He was 79.
Born on November 9, 1939 in Detroit to Marko and Suzanne (Aucouturier) Samardjich, his parents preceded him in passing.
Don graduated from St. Martin High School in Detroit in 1957. He served honorably in the United States Navy from 1957 to 1960. Following his military service, he attended Wayne State University, where he played football and completed his undergraduate degree in 1964. He earned his Doctorate of Law Degree in 1970 from Detroit College of Law. While in Law School, he taught at St. Martin High School and coached football.
In 1971, Jack Meyer, a fellow football coach and a Cadillac native, suggested that Don apply for a position at the law firm of Korn and Burns in Cadillac. He was offered a position at the firm, and he and his family moved from Royal Oak. After a year with that firm, Don started his own law practice. In 1974, David McCurdy joined Don to form Samardich and McCurdy, P.C. That firm then merged in 1978 with Benson and Wotila to form the Law Firm of Samardich, Benson, McCurdy and Wotila.
Don retired from the law practice in 1990 and took a position with Cadillac Rubber and Plastics, which eventually became Avon Rubber and Plastics, with headquarters in England. He retired as President and CEO of Avon Rubber and Plastics North American Operations in 1998.
Extremely athletic, Don excelled in football, baseball and basketball while in high school and was honored to be selected captain of the high school teams. As an adult in Cadillac, he enjoyed mountain biking, hiking, fly fishing, camping, backpacking, wilderness canoeing, playing tennis, and alpine and Nordic skiing.
He traveled frequently to Big Sky, Montana to spend time with his three children and grandchildren, who live there. With family or friends, he often took trips into the Boundary Waters Wilderness and the Wind River Range in Wyoming, as well as downhill ski trips out East, West and to Canada. An avid tennis player, he also volunteered as a tennis coach for the Cadillac High School girls and boys teams. He was a voracious reader and often shared books with family members and friends.
A mentor to countless people of all ages, Don had a special gift of making people feel that they mattered. He listened empathically and conveyed a genuine sense that he cared about them. He was exceedingly kind. He loved life, nature, and people. A practical jokester, he had a great sense of humor. He loved to laugh and make others laugh with him.
Don served on many boards in the Cadillac area, including the Cadillac Area Community Foundation, Cadillac School Board, Mercy and Munson Hospital Boards, Northern Precision Products of LeRoy, as well as others.
In 1963, Don married Anita Louise Thibert in Royal Oak, Michigan. She and their four children were the center of his life. A loving husband, father, and grandfather, he is survived by his wife Anita, their four children: Christine (Jason Raffaele) Samardich of Cadillac, Michael (Robbeye) Samardich, Suzanne (Alex Hassman) Samardich, Timothy (Lisa) Samardich, all of Big Sky, Montana, along with their grandchildren: Aidan Raffaele of Cadillac, Kjetil and Wren Hassman, Parker and Mateo Samardich of Big Sky.
He is also survived by his sister, Nancy Willetts of Commerce Township, Michigan; sister-in-law, Jane (Rick) Fulmer of Traverse City; brother-in-law, Carl (Terry) Thibert of Sterling Heights; and Susan, Larry, Linda, Dawn, Peter, Marianne, Donna, Janet, Frank, Andrew, Nancy, Karen, Joey, Brian, Beth, Shawn, Anne, and Ty, all of whom are beloved nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, Don was preceded in death by his siblings: John, Marie, Dolores, Mark, Alexander, Tony; and numerous in-laws.
Cremation has taken place. A Memorial Mass and Celebration of the Life of Donald Samardich will be announced in the spring.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Cadillac High School Tennis Team, the Salvation Army of Cadillac, or the Cadillac Wexford Public Library. An online guestbook is available at www.petersonfh.com.