Obituary: John Edward Podolan
June 12, 1939 – June 21, 2022
John Edward Podolan was born in Flint, Michigan to John and Ann (Sedlarik) Podolan and grew up in Swartz Creek, where he spent a happy childhood on the family farm with his siblings Roseann and Tom. One of his favorite pets was a raccoon named Porky he raised with his brother, but eventually had to re-home after Porky grew too fond of chicken eggs (and eventually the hens that laid them).
In 1962, John married his first wife, Sandra (Sandee) Harrold, and together, they had two daughters, Tracy and Marcy. John married once more to Christie Wildfong from 1980 to 1989.
In the early 1960s, John cofounded “The Gentrys,” a folk band who (with their good friend Jackie Bowles) cowrote and performed the Citizen’s Bank Weather Ball jingle. John and Sandee were regulars at The Sippin Lizard, the Bowles’ music establishment, and made friends with many of the touring artists. One young songwriter, Joni Mitchell, found safe haven in the Podolans’ home when she performed in Flint.
A graduate of Central Michigan University, John had a successful 32-year career at General Motors that started on the assembly line and ended with a managerial role in purchasing. He was an avid sailor and skier, which ultimately led him to Colorado. He taught skiing for nearly two decades at Keystone, A-Basin, and Vail, encouraging folks with his tongue-in-cheek advice to “shut up and ski!” He kept in touch with the people he loved, often hosting them in Summit County.
These are the things John loved most: His daughters and family, his 5-string long-neck banjo “Blanche,” duct tape, sailing on Lake Dillon, his trusty pontoon boat in Michigan (AKA “The Upchuck” or “Orange Puke”), spicy chicken curry, well-told stories, garage-perfect wood working, a cold PBR, and a really good joke.
He leaves behind his daughters Tracy Ann (Romoser) and Marcy Ross Podolan; son-in-law Michael; grandchildren Katie and David; his brother Tom Podolan and sister-in-law Stephany; nephews Rick, Scott, Thomas, John, Patrick, and their families; nieces Krista and Stephany, and their families; his long-time partner Pat O’Keefe; and countless friends on and off the slopes—all of whom thought the world of him. We encourage folks to leave memorial contributions to the ACLU (he would have loved that).
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