Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University and Bulldog Athletics today mourns the loss of loyal alum and longtime supporter Jim Place, who passed away on Wednesday (Oct. 4) at the age of 89.
A local icon, Place was a four-year football letterwinner at Ferris State from 1949-52 and was later inducted into the Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame in the Class of 2004. He served as team captain for the 1952 squad and helped FSU post the program's 100th all-time win versus Defiance (Ohio) in 1951 under head coach Bob Sherman while playing both guard and linebacker.
Place, a former U.S. Army paratrooper, came to Ferris after serving over two years in the World War II occupation of Japan. He was later recalled to the U.S. Army during his collegiate playing days and also elected president of the FSU Varsity Club as a student-athlete.
A longtime supporter of Bulldog Athletics, Place backed Ferris continuously since 1974 through his involvement in the Bulldog Club, President's Club, FSU Gridiron Club and the Ferris Athletic Associates. A former member of the Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame Committee, Place also served in the Gridiron Club as a board member, secretary and treasurer.
Over the last several decades, Place had been one of Ferris' most loyal supporters and sports fans. You could see him at almost every football game. He enjoyed managing the "out of town tailgates" and cooking hot dogs for Ferris football team events. At various times, he served as a member of the Hall of Fame Committee, Gridiron Club Committee and President's Club. He also loved working with stained glass and donated approximately 45 stained glass bulldog logos to Friends of Ferris, Ferris golf outings, and other Ferris sports auctions, raising money for Ferris State Athletics.
In his spare time, Place enjoyed pheasant hunting in South Dakota, fishing in Lake Michigan, duck hunting, deer hunting and playing golf. He also enjoyed crossword puzzles and belonged to a euchre club for 27 years.
Place was born in Alma to Clarence and Sarah (McGillis) Place on July 20, 1928 and graduated from Alma High School in 1946.
After graduation, he joined Universal Electric Company in Owosso, Mich., as an accountant, and later helped establish a new factory in Altavista, Virginia. In 1954, he met and married the former Ina Beattie from Owosso, Mich. Together they would raise four children. From 1968 to 1977, Jim served as Vice President of The Roary Corporation in Lansing. He later purchased R. L. Rider Co. in Lansing. He sold the business in 1983 and retired to northern Michigan to sell real estate with McClure Realty.
He is survived by daughters Marcia (Richard) Burkart of Tallahassee, FL, Terry Jo (Brian) Courtade of Grandville, MI, Nancy Place of Alta Monte Springs, FL, and son Michael (Deborah) Place of Bensonville, IL; and grandchildren Alex and Andi Courtade. Also surviving are sister Naomi Potter of Shepherd, MI, and brother Rod (Barb Farris) Place of Lawton, MI; brothers-in-law James (Helen) Beattie of Owosso; Howard (Kathleen) Beattie of Fairfield, VA, sisters-in-law Betty (Glen) Andrews of Sanford, FL, Sally Hunt of Corunna, MI, Susie Daley of Owosso, MI, Marian Beattie of Saginaw, MI, Nancy Beattie of Owosso; plus, many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his beloved wife, Ina; sister-in-law Mary Hendry; brothers-in-law Robert Beattie, Richard Beattie, Robert Hunt and Merrill Potter; and nephew Dean Hendry.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at the Mohnke Funeral Home in Big Rapids. Jim's family will greet friends from 10-11:00 a.m. Memorial contributions may be made to the Ferris State University Foundation.