James “Jim” Daniel Florip, 71, died peacefully Sunday, October 8, 2023, at Turning Brook Senior Living Community, after an extended illness due to Parkinson’s disease.
Jim was born October 24, 1951, in Rogers City, to Jack and Margaret (Smolinski) Florip. He was one of the Water Tower Gang, a neighborhood of dozens of baby boomers (many of whom were Jim’s cousins) who grew up on “the hill” in Rogers City in the shadow of the old Doris Lane water tower. Jim attended St. Ignatius Catholic School and Rogers City High School, graduating as valedictorian of the Class of 1969. He played halfback for the Hurons’ varsity football team, and after football was canceled for budget cuts in 1967, Jim started his senior season by scoring Rogers City’s first points in two years when he returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown in the 1968 opener at Petoskey. He also served on the student council.
Jim worked his way through college and law school sailing five summers on the Great Lakes for U.S. Steel’s Bradley fleet. He sailed first as a deckhand and then as a deck watchman on the W. F. White, George A. Sloan, Rogers City, Calcite II and Irvin L. Clymer. Jim’s uncle Norm Quaine, sometimes his captain on the boats, often remarked, “If your mothers saw what you guys have to do out here, they’d never let you leave shore!”
In 1973 Jim earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration (with distinction) from the University of Michigan. He graduated from Wayne State University Law School in 1976.
Jim started his northeast Michigan legal career in 1975, clerking for Judges Phil Glennie and Joe Swallow of the 26th Circuit Court. Jim was admitted to the bar November 24, 1976, and went to work as the assistant prosecuting attorney for Presque Isle County in 1977. He was hired by Gillard, Bauer & Mazrum in Alpena in 1979, and added his name to the firm when he became a partner in 1983. He retired from Gillard, Bauer, Mazrum, Florip, Smigelski & Gulden after 42 years in 2021, having worked with his son Dan for the final 15.
An accomplished transactional attorney, Jim earned Martindale-Hubbell’s coveted AV peer review rating, signifying the highest legal ability and ethical standards. For several decades Jim was local counsel for U.S. Steel and Michigan Limestone, and worked as general counsel for local corporations and townships along with providing assistance to countless individual clients over the years.
In 1978 Jim’s mother signed him up for a tax prep course at Alpena Community College to help make him more knowledgeable as a business attorney, and in that class, he met Ann Nowak. Jim and Ann married May 25, 1980, at St. Mary Catholic Church in Alpena. Celebrating the wedding Mass was the Rev. Chet Pilarski, a longtime friend of Ann’s family who grew up next door to Jim’s mother.
Jim and Ann were married for 43 wonderful years. Together they raised their three sons, with Jim coaching T-ball, Little League, basketball and flag football.
Vacations for Jim and Ann and the boys were historical tours of battlefields and national monuments. Jim enjoyed driving on several family road trips to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone Park, Washington, D.C., Gettysburg, the Little Bighorn battlefield, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg and even Disney World.
With all three sons attending the University of Michigan at the same time, Jim and Ann made many trips back and forth to Ann Arbor to pick up kids for holiday breaks and help them move in and out of dorms and apartments, and also to attend football games. Together they enjoyed many drives out to Virginia and Maryland initially to help their sons Tom and John relocate for jobs, and later to visit.
Jim was a lifelong member of the Knights of Columbus and the Rogers City Servicemen’s Club, and a parishioner of St. Mary Church and All Saints Parish. He was a past member of the St. Mary parish council and served as a reader at Mass (always insisting on taking his sleepy kids at the earliest time available on Sunday) in addition to helping cook for parish breakfasts and wild game dinners. Jim was a past president of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce and served as chairman of the MidMichigan Alpena Medical Center board of trustees.
Jim enjoyed working outside and hunting with his Quaine and Streich cousins west of Rogers City. A few nights at the Streich camp each fall always recharged his humor batteries for the year. He inherited great genes for silly humor from both the Florips and the Smolinskis, and he loved getting together with his many cousins for what he called “stupid talk,” especially each year during Rogers City’s Nautical Festival.
Most of all, Jim loved holding babies and playing with little kids, and spending time enjoying his grandchildren Adam, Trevor, Mary Ann and Margaret.
Though he never sought credit or recognition, Jim often provided behind-the-scenes help to family and friends. He was strong of mind, heart, and purpose, and quiet in resolve. Jim was highly regarded as a friendly and affable gentleman who could talk to anyone, never spoke unkindly, and showed great respect to everyone he met. He will be sorely missed by many.
Jim is survived by his beloved wife, Ann; their three sons, Dan (Jenny) of Alpena, Tom (Bernadette) of Leonardtown, Maryland and John (Risa) of Fredericksburg, Virginia; four grandchildren, Adam and Trevor Florip, and Mary Ann and Margaret Florip; siblings, Dave (Margaret) of Lakeville, Minnesota, Tom (Janet) of Southport, North Carolina and Jeanne (Dave) Howard of Fort Myers, Florida; mother-in-law, Gayle Nowak, of Alpena; Ann’s siblings Jay (Barb) Nowak of Bloomfield Hills, Paul (Debbie) Nowak of Irwin, Pennsylvania, Sue Romano of Alpena, Jon Nowak (Julie Gau) of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and Pete (Pam) Nowak of Alpena; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Jack and Margaret; and father-in-law, Jerry Nowak.
Jim’s familyis immensely grateful to the wonderful staff members of Turning Brook Senior Living Community and Hospice of Michigan for their generous love, care, and respect for Jim, which allowed him to live his final year in peace, comfort and dignity.
Friends may call at Bannan Funeral Home Friday, October 13, between 2-8 p.m., with a prayer service at 7 p.m. Visitation will continue at 10 a.m. Saturday, October 14, at St. Anne Church of All Saints Parish, with a Mass of Christian Burial following at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Aloysius Okpala officiating.
Inurnment will be at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to All Saints Parish, MyMichigan Health Alpena Development Council or Hospice of Michigan.