GRAND HAVEN, MICH. - A storm packing winds as high as 103 mph that swept through Grand Haven early Friday claimed the life of a 72-year-old man that his family describes as “everybody’s favorite person.”
Police said Lawrence Thon died when a large tree fell on his Highland Park home, located at 70 Poplar Ridge, at about 3 a.m.
“He was in his bed at the time,” Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said. “The tree took off an addition to the house, landed on him, and he died at the scene.”
Hawke said Thon’s wife was in a different part of the house when the tree fell.
“She was standing at the front door when the tree fell and she made it out safely, unharmed,” the chief said. “She was up checking the storm conditions.”
Thon’s step-daughter, Katherine Morrison, said that the family “are all devastated.”
“My husband said this morning that he’s the epitome of so many things ... both disciplined and fun,” Morrison said of her step-father.
Morrison said Thon — who served in the Vietnam War — was a great personality who told great stories, loved to play games and chit-chat over a drink.
“He was the best storyteller in the world. He was so funny and so engaging,” she said. “It’s hard to imagine not talking to him again.”
Morrison noted that her step-dad led an active life. She said he traveled around the globe, exercised daily, and rode his bike across the country — from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon — three years ago.
Thon had been married to Morrison’s mother for 25 years. She said the two were high school sweethearts.
“They dated in high school, lost touch with each other, then reconnected at a class reunion,” Morrison said. “They’ve been the most amazing partners in life.”
Morrison said that her family was grateful for the support of the local community.
“The Highland Park community and the larger Grand Haven community has been incredible, offering their support in many ways, including Bilz Plumbing, who brought a generator over to the home where my mom is staying since power is out,” she said.
The Ottawa County Technical Rescue team and a private tree removal company assisted the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety in the recovery effort.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased,” Hawke said.
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