Hundreds celebrate life of Bryan Crough with tears and laughter

Hundred's filled the Traverse City Opera House Saturday morning to celebrate his life.

Friends, family and community members gathered Saturday morning to pay their respects to the man that many people say transformed downtown Traverse City, Bryan Crough.

Bryan Crough, who served as Executive Director of Traverse City's Downtown Development Authority for the past 23 years died last Sunday from a massive heart attack.

Hundreds filled the Traverse City Opera House to celebrate his life. There was both laughter, and moments of sadness as stories were shared of Bryan's many accomplishments during his time in Traverse City, and the thousands of lives that he touched.

"As you look outside in the downtown right now, this moment, there are thousands of people who did not know Bryan, but they know his work," said outgoing City Manager Ben Bifoss.

"He helped us understand how individual ideas, concerns, and possibilities could be molded together to create a vision," said Executive Director of the United Way, Steve Wade.

Bryan is credited as the champion for projects like the City Opera House, The State Theatre, and most recently his fundraising for improvements at Clinch Park, just to name a few.

"Bryan worked hard, and he played hard," said Executive Director of Rotary Charities, Marsha Smith. "He gave everything his all without very much concern to the personal costs to himself."

One of the most compelling stories shared came from his partner, Todd McMillen, who shared what home life was like with Bryan.

"He didn't clean the house because he said he was too busy, he didn't iron, his shirts when to the cleaners, he didn't like to fold sheets, he wadded them up in a ball," chuckled McMillen. "I'm not trying to play him down, but I wanted you to know that he was this big visionary and person to you, and to me he was just my life. But I got to laugh the most."

The celebration also reminded the community that in order to carry on Bryan Crough's vision for a greater Traverse City, they would have to do as he did, and jump right in.

"That's how you will carry on Bryan's legacy," said Celebrant, Richard Lewis. "By being involved in your community. Not just your neighborhood, but you look at the greater whole and the greater Northern Michigan because we know the parts are the sums."

Bryan Crough's final resting place will be at Oakwood Cemetery in Traverse City.