Two longtime Saugatuck residents, Ray Riker and Dan Krieter, passed away within days of each other this month.
There are many wonderful tributes to Ray on the internet - from his partner Jim's beautifully touching blog to LifeStoryNet, where a record number of guests have visited his page. Ray and I would often work out at the same time at the gym, and my partner, Gregg, and I have had dinner several times with Ray and Jim. I will miss Ray's warmth and sense of humor.
I could not, however, find any mention of Dan on the internet, and that is the main reason why I feel that Spirit has guided me to create this blog, so that I may help pay tribute to him here on my first post.
While I do not understand it, I wholeheartedly respect Dan's loving long-time partner, Roger, and the Krieter family's decision not to publish an obituary in the newspaper or online. Still, the writer in me wants to memorialize Dan in some small way. So here goes:
Dan was one of the first people to welcome me and Gregg to Saugatuck back in 2005. As we did not know anyone in town, Dan introduced us to many people in the community and even invited us over for Thanksgiving at his home.
When giving us directions to his place, Dan instructed us to "cross over the train tracks." We didn't even know there was a train that ran near Lakeshore Drive in Saugatuck. What we discovered when we arrived was that the tracks were on Dan's property! He had laid them himself and had his own train. I'm not talking one of those minature model trains. Dan's was a train that six adults could actually ride in!
We had so much fun taking those train rides around his property. Though Dan was definitely a "man's man" in many ways with a deep voice, big bear hugs and a hearty laugh, he was like a little kid when it came to conducting those train rides. It reminded me of the line from Scripture when Jesus instructs us to become like little children: "Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” This quality also came through each summer when we'd walk into town together for ice cream cones.
Dan was talented in so many ways. For instance, he and Roger built their beautiful log-cabin home all by themselves. They didn't hire contracters or builders. Dan took great pride in that home and its surroundings. He loved doing things outdoors, but he also loved old movies and reading by the fire. Dan was also an excellent cook, too.
What some may not know was that Dan was also a very talented writer of fiction. I feel honored that he shared the first draft of his novel with me, and I hope it will get published so that others may discover this talent of his.
I don't know if Dan was a religious person, but he did share with me that during a time of crisis in his adult life, he had a vision of Jesus, who offered comfort and good counsel. I feel so blessed to have gotten to know Dan in this lifetime, and I will remember his spirit everytime I hear a train whistle in the distance.
I share with you all a photo of Dan, which is the only one I could find for now. Though it shows him in all his rugged handsomeness, it does not showcase his amazing smile, and Dan was someone who was always smiling. Rest in peace, my dear friend, and thank you for your friendship.