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Robert Alfred Borak

October 20, 1926 — February 23, 2022

Robert Alfred Borak, 95, of Roscommon, died Feb. 23, 2022, at his home.

Robert was born in Newberry, Mich., on Oct. 20, 1926, to John and Anna (Marceny) Borak, immigrants from Ukraine and Germany, respectively. His father died young, leaving 9-year-old Robert with his mother and seven sisters. His mother remarried, to Wassil Koval, and an eighth sister was born.

Growing up during the Depression meant working whenever possible, which included delivering papers, helping in a bakery and stints in the nearby lumber camps. Somewhere along the way he learned to love a good laugh and to love living. He kept that attitude, and his baking skills, until the end.

After graduating from Newberry High School, Robert eagerly joined the Army in late 1944, near the end of World War II and was stationed in the Philippines. When his duty ended he took advantage of the GI Bill to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry from Michigan Technological University, graduating in 1952.

He married Julia Trombley in October 1953 and they settled in Gwinn for a time, where he began his almost 40-year career as a forester with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. When he retired in 1990, he was the Region II Forest Supervisor and noted then that he had loved going to work every day.

Job promotions took Robert and his growing family from Gwinn to Alpena, then Gladwin and Cadillac, before he built his final home in Roscommon in 1972, about the same time the new DNR Regional office was built there.

He quit smoking not too long after this final move, a habit he had formed in his teens. Now suddenly able to breathe he returned to sports, including biking, fast-walking and cross-country skiing. On the state-owned forestland just down the road from his house he cleared trails for his new hobbies and Julia christened the trail system the Tisdale Triangle. Now maintained by the State, the pathway is groomed in the winter for cross-country skiing and is enjoyed by many all year long.

After buying some land in Wexford County in the mid 1960s, Robert built a hunting cabin there and began making maple syrup. After he retired, he spent many happy days making syrup, planting trees, cutting firewood and growing and harvesting fruit. He also somehow made time to be an avid bowler and volunteer for Mercy Hospital Grayling Auxiliary, coordinating their annual pasty sale.

Robert was preceded in death by his wife, Julia; infant siblings Wilford and Amelia; his sisters Margaret (Ward) Hunter, Katherine (Al) Bourdo, Pauline (Kurt) Laarz , Bertha “Pat” (John) Paterek, Martha (Harry) Hoppe, Helen Fillman and Shirley Koval.

He is survived by his sister, Rose Gardella of Nevada, brother-in-law William Fillman of Escanaba, and his children; Paula (Roger) York of Andover, NY, Laura (Dave Basham) Borak of Cathlamet, WA; Al Borak of Roscommon, Linda (James) Mesler of Roscommon, Joseph (Kristen) Borak of Grand Rapids, and Irene Borak of Roscommon. He was also blessed with 10 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews – he loved them all.

Years of smoking took their toll and Robert died from complications brought on by COPD. The family wishes to thank Munson Healthcare Hospice for their assistance in his final weeks. He was buried in a “green” ceremony Feb. 27 next to his wife at Peninsula Township Cemetery on Old Mission Peninsula, Traverse City. If they wish, friends can honor him with a donation to the Cadillac Area Land Conservancy.

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