John Laity 1935-2023

Young man with a crewcut taking off on his Harley

John Laity

9 Oct 1935-6 Mar 2023

John Wesley Laity died Monday March 6th 2023 from the myriad complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Born in Lansing, he was the son of Edith Sippola Laity and Wesley Wilbur Laity, who predeceased him as did his older sister Helen Laity Hearp. He grew up on Clark Road and returned in 2018. 

At Sexton High School he played coronet in the marching band (which played at President Eisenhower’s inauguration), and joined the Naval Reserves in 1954. Working in Al’s Garage on W. Saginaw he got to know fellow Sexton High School student Marjorie Weber, who was working as a Bell Telephone operator. They were married in 1958 and had three children, first in the house he had grown up in, then in the new house built next door. The young father apprenticed as a tool maker at Oldsmobile Plant 3 and began a long career from which he would eventually retire in 1991. The family spent a lot of time camping and traveling all over the Great Lake state including frequent trips to their cabin in Kaleva, as well as across the country– from the Smokies to the Rockies. 

After retirement he and Margie enjoyed spending even more time traveling with their trailer, visiting a variety of National Parks. They loved the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park so much, they sold their house in Michigan and moved to Johnson City (Texas) where John embarked on his second career as a national park ranger, driving folks from the LBJ birthplace to the ranch on the shuttle bus and telling tales of Johnson’s boyhood that were mostly true. Friends will remember how much he delighted in stretching a tale to see how far he could get away with it until his audience caught on. Besides, he loved that Smokey the Bear hat. Ladybird Johnson would host the park volunteers at a Christmas party every year. 

John’s love of cars and motorcycles continued through his life, though his pride and joy was the 1956 Corvette that had belonged to his boss at the garage. When he and Margie left Texas for the drier climate of Las Cruces New Mexico, they joined the Cruisers Unlimited car club and loved showing off the Corvette at car shows locally and in the region. He maintained his membership in the Oldsmobile Club of America. When Margie died in 2017, John moved back to Clark Road where he has been since. He is survived by his children Steven, Kathryn and Robert, as well as by his yellow lab Maggie.

If you would like to honor his memory, please donate for research into the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, support the National Park Foundation, or roll down the windows and blast some Johnny Cash as you cruise around town.

There will be a memorial service at Tiffany Chapel, 3232 W. Saginaw, Lansing on March 24th. Visitation hour at noon with service at 1pm.

Elder gentleman standing next to a revolutionary war cannon