TRAVERSE CITY - William John "Billy" Miltz, 64, "the skinny little guy from Cleveland, Ohio," passed away unexpectedly Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. He was born Sept. 18, 1948, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Roland William and Charlotte Miltz.
Bill was a great "best" friend of so many. He leaves us all with great memories of a man who lived life to the fullest and of the chortle of his boyish laugh echoing in our hearts. "A day without Billy is like a day without sunshine." His honesty, loyalty and kindness are a lasting legacy and a reminder of what a life well-lived really looked like.
This hard working, multi-faceted businessman/visionary parleyed many successful ventures, the Western Avenue Grill, the Leland Lodge, real estate investments, all as he built the North American distribution of Pet Containment Products for Invisible Fence Brand, to name a few.
He worked tirelessly as a volunteer coaching, teaching and serving the many communities, schools, boards and organizations wherever he lived.
Bill grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Hawken School, where the start of his many lifelong friendships were forged. He graduated from Hillsdale College with a degree in business. It was here he laid the foundation for his strong belief in America and the conviction that freedom and truth were blessings that opened and lifted the hearts and minds of mankind. He knew that, armed with this concept, anything is possible. He later graduated from Cleveland State with an MBA.
He lived in his beloved Leelanau County for over 25 years, living close to the land surrounded by nature's gifts. Later he made friends and fans in Lake Placid, N.Y., Marco Island, Fla., Arlington Heights, Ill., and Old Mission Peninsula.
He was a true animal lover. He appreciated their unwavering forgiveness and unconditional loyalty, qualities he too possessed in abundance and with an innate understanding.
He lent a helping hand whenever and wherever he could. He was one of the hardest workers you would ever find. And somehow he always managed to laugh and discover solutions to the hurdles along the way. He was as complex in this diversity as he was simple in his approach to the solutions for complex issues. You very seldom heard a discouraging word.
Bill had so many passions, sports, the Cleveland Indians, the Browns, meeting people and checking out pub decor. He was an avid boater who loved swapping tales of the sea and sharing a can of "Light" with any and all.
For over four decades he played, captained and led the Traverse Bay Blues Rugby Football Club, of which he was a charter member. With this troupe of Warriors he traveled the world, playing a sport he loved, spinning tales and making friendships. Although he was smaller by comparison, all of his mates looked up to him. His commitment to "never give up" inspired all to do better, whether on the pitch or in the office.
He made sure to celebrate life's blessings and adventures regularly. It was at one of these celebratory adventures that he met, loved and wed, Nov. 24, 2007, the silver lining of his soul, Annie Groves Miltz. She was his "First Mate, Straight Man, Co-Captain, Partner and Queen." He is also survived by his three children, Sarah (Aaron) Stayman, of Seattle Wash., Mac Miltz, of Sandpoint, Idaho, and Jessica Miltz, of Traverse City; two stepdaughters, Abbey Groves and Meredith Groves, both of Arlington Heights, all of whom he was always so very proud; grandchildren, Scarlett and Josephine Stayman; his sister, Charlene (Bill) Deuber, of Pennsylvania; brother, Jack (Taffy) Miltz, of Marco Island, Fla.; and nieces, Kristen and Kathryn Deuber, Danielle and Jordan Miltz.
He was preceded in death by his father, Rol and mother, Charlotte, of Newton Square, Pa.
A memorial service were held on Monday, Aug. 12 at Grace Episcopal Church, 341 Washington St., Traverse City. A celebration of his life followed.
Memorial contributions may be made to any one of the following organizations: Hillsdale College, 33 E. College Street, Hillsdale, MI 49242; Hawken School, PO Box 8002, Gates Mills, OH 44040; or Traverse Bay Blues Rugby Club, c/o Nancy Brick, 830 Birchwood Ave., Traverse City, MI 49868.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories with Billy's family at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com. The family is being served by Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services.