In Honor of John Monroe Frey: A Dear Friend of FLOW

It is with deep sorrow that we bid farewell to John Monroe Frey, an extraordinary man whose life was a testament to the power of passion, curiosity, and unwavering dedication to the Great Lakes and his community. John passed away peacefully on March 28, 2024, at his home in Charlevoix, Michigan, surrounded by his beloved family. He was 84 years old.

John had a humble way of communicating what he understood through his life challenges, experiences, and deep thoughts. On an early September afternoon a few years ago, while hosting a packed lunch with FLOW’s staff on a high ridge overlooking his farm, John asked, “Is water sacred?” His Charlevoix farm served as a sanctuary, where he reveled in the beauty and worked tirelessly to protect it and his community throughout Northern Michigan and beyond. From creating ponds for migratory birds to establishing conservation easements, John’s efforts ensured that the land he cherished and the water that ran through and beneath it would remain pristine. John was a dedicated environmental steward and conservationist who fully appreciated and respected the graces of nature, art, literature, and community, including his unfathomable concern for the Great Lakes and its people—starting with the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Bodewadmi people who lived in the region long before the arrival of European adventurers and traders.

John’s philanthropic spirit ran deep. He left an indelible mark on his community through his active engagement with many people and organizations, including FLOW, the Charlevoix County Community Foundation, the Frey Foundation, and many more throughout Michigan and beyond. He sought active solutions that achieved goals to hold accountable those who have or continue to abuse our streams, lakes, wetlands, and drinking water and health. His unwavering confidence and trust in FLOW’s strategic direction were unparalleled and inspire us to carry out his uncompromising spirit about water and the earth. John and Hilda’s generosity will empower FLOW to pursue and advocate for transformative legal and policy strategies, ensuring the health, accessibility, and protection of the Great Lakes Basin waters for generations to come.

As we mourn the loss of John Frey, we also celebrate the extraordinary life he lived and the countless lives he touched along the way. He leaves behind a legacy of love, kindness, and dedication to the people, places, and causes he held dear. Our thoughts are with his wife, Hilda, his children, grandchildren, and all who had the privilege of knowing him.

Please visit this link to read John Frey’s Obituary

The family is planning a private celebration of life. Memorial gifts may be made to FLOW (For the Love of Water), 440 West Front Street, Suite 100, Traverse City, MI 49684. Or gifts can be directed to a charitable organization of your choosing that supports mental health for youth.

Please visit this link to make a memorial gift to FLOW

Arrangements are in the care of the Charlevoix Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes. Please sign his online guestbook

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