Community remembering Brian Donnelly

Brian Donnelly, 61, died Saturday while skiing on the Vasa trail in Grand Traverse County.

Co-workers, colleagues, and friends remember the Kalkaska County Prosecutor who died this weekend.

61 year-old Brian Donnelly died from cardiac arrest while cross-country skiing on the VASA trail in Grand Traverse County this weekend.

Donnelly was the Kalkaska County Prosecutor for 17 years.

Colleagues call him passionate, hard working, and a man who believed in justice.

"It was complete shock; I didn't want to believe it," said Kalkaska County Sheriff Dave Israel.

Israel first met Brian Donnelly in 1995, when Donnelly was appointed prosecutor. Israel says Donnelly was a good colleague and a great friend.

â??He did the right thing, that's the best way to explain Brian, he did the right thing in everything he done, the way he lived his life, the way he worked, he just always did the right thing," said Israel.

Donnelly was in the middle of a recall effort to oust him from office. Israel said he handled it professionally and never stopped working for the people. Donnelly was well-respected by other local prosecutors, like Antrim County Prosecutor Charles Koop.

â??One thing you didn't want to do with Brian was not be honest with him, shade the truth, shade the edges of the truth, because he was all black and white about the truth," said Koop.

Before coming to Kalkaska County, Donnelly worked in the Kalamazoo County Prosecuting Office and also in Grand Traverse County as a drug prosecutor. Grand Traverse District Judge Michael Haley worked with Donnelly.

"He wouldn't just out to go thump his chest and go win a case, he really wanted to do the right thing I think in every case, he was a very thoughtful, very smart guy, and was up front," said Haley.

And when he died Saturday, he was doing something he loved. He was on the trail, preparing for his 34th VASA race. He has never missed a VASA event in its 35 years, cancelled twice because of weather.

"He always loved being out here, loved talking about trails and skiing, he was one of our greatest advocates,â?? said Pete Laplaca, Board President for the North American VASA Ski Race.

With Donnellyâ??s passing, Kalkaska Countyâ??s Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kirk Metzger is now the acting prosecutor.

The next step is for the 46th Circuit Judges to appoint an interim prosecutor.

The appointee will be in office until the end of this year when Donnellyâ??s term was scheduled to end.

Funeral information is released for Brian Donnelly.

Visitation will take place Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at Wolfe-Oâ??Neill Funeral Home in Kalkaska. Funeral services will be on Friday at 2 p.m. at Kalkaska Church of Christ.