Elmer Orin Irish, Jr., age 83, of Christmas and formerly of Ceresco, Michigan, died early Wednesday morning, January 6, 2021, at U.P. Health System in Marquette. Elmer was born on the family farm in Ceresco on November 14, 1937, to Elmer and Donna (Dolph) Irish, Sr. While growing up on the family farm, Elmer stayed very busy working with his father raising cattle, hogs, corn, wheat, and oats. He and his father started a Cow/Calf operation and then decided to raise the first Polled Herefords in Michigan. An article was published about them in the Farm Journal Magazine. As the farm grew, they built feed lots and traveled to Stamford, Texas to the SMS Ranch to purchase feeder calves. Soon after, they started traveling to the Dakotas and purchased Hereford, Angus, and Black/White face feeder calves. Always looking for cost effective ways to feed their herds, they hauled cereal from Kellogg and Ralston that would have gone to waste. Elmer attended Marshall High School and graduated in 1956. During his time in High School, he played football and received his Varsity Letter. Elmer’s true passion showed in his participation in FFA and 4-H. He received many awards and traveled to the FFA National Convention and scored a Gold for Livestock Judging. Showing steers at the Calhoun County Fair through 4-H gave Elmer a chance to show off his family’s prized cattle.
After graduation, Elmer married Gayle E. Machin, and together they had three children on the family farm. Elmer and Gayle trained quarter horses, and traveled to rodeos throughout Michigan where Elmer competed in Steer Wrestling. Elmer liked throwing large neighborhood hog roasts and was known for his secret brown sugar grilling sauce. Elmer served on the Marshall Township Fire Department as a volunteer for over 30 years. In 1980, Elmer and Gayle moved to Lake City, Florida to try their hand at warm weather farming. After a few years, they returned to the more reliable Michigan farm. Elmer enjoyed traveling out West to go antelope hunting with his friend, John Tobalske. On one trip, they talked to the cattle ranch he worked with about buying a heifer and bull buffalo. To the family’s surprise, the ranchers snuck the buffalo in with the next load of cattle. As the buffalo grew, they were quite the spectacle of Squaw Creek. Many drivers would screech to a halt to gawk at the buffalo. Elmer had many adventures during every season of Michigan with his brother-in-law Herm: including ice fishing, smelt dipping, fishing, deer hunting, and snowmobiling. He and his friend, Harry Day Jr., trapped and ran coon hounds together. After his marriage to Gayle ended in divorce, Elmer retired from farming and drove semis. He hauled a variety of products, from Girl Scout Cookies to car bumpers.
In 1998, he married Mary (Greenleaf) Demond. They started a new adventure hauling camping and horse trailers from the manufacturer in Elkhart, Indiana to sales lots all over the U.S. In 2000, Elmer decided to fully retire and move to the U.P. where he and Mary spent much of their time fishing, gardening and watching the abundance of wildlife. Birds, turkeys, raccoons, moose, and black bears frequented their yard, sneaking food from the bird feeders. One night, Elmer and Mary were startled by a black bear knocking on their back door. In the Fall, Elmer would travel back to Marshall to help his son-in-law harvest corn and soy beans and see how big the Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren had grown. Elmer enjoyed his final days enjoying nature and visiting with friends and family, who would travel up North to see him.
Elmer is survived by his wife Mary Irish of Christmas; his children: Cindy (Phil) Fairchild of Marshall, Sandra (Terry) Day of Ceresco, and Joel (Holly) Irish of Tekonsha; five grandchildren: Todd Day, Taylor (Jessica) Day, Grant, Kordell, and Julia Irish; three great-grandchildren: Laine Day, Rylee Day, and Grace Day; sister, Betty Jane “BJ” Vaulkner of Marshall, and numerous nieces and nephews. Elmer was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Patricia Kent, brother, Alan, and bothers-in-law: Richard Kent and Herm Vaulkner.
A celebration of life will take place at a later time. Memorial contributions may be sent to: Marshall FFA c/o Lora Finch, 701 N. Marshall, Marshall MI 49068. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Marshall FFA c/o Lora Finch
701 N. Marshall, Marshall MI 49068