Kitchel-Lindquist Dunes Preserve co-founder dies

Becky Vargo • Apr 24, 2017 at 12:00 PM

A former Grand Haven man known as the co-founder of the Kitchel-Lindquist-Hartger Dunes Preserve died April 10.

Gerald Lindquist was 92 and was living in Grand Rapids with his wife, Patsy.

Lindquist and his late wife, Connie, and neighbor Harold Hartger together donated almost 60 acres of Grand Haven dune land to The Nature Conservancy in 1971 to keep it from getting developed.

“His foremost interest was preserving that piece of property for future generations,” said Dunes Preserve Board Chairman and longtime Lindquist neighbor Joe Sage. “Even in his 90s, he was very curious about what was going on in the dunes.”

Just last summer, even though he couldn’t walk the dunes, Lindquist and his wife drove over so he could at least see them from his car, Sage said.

“He was interested to the very end,” Sage added.

Gerald and Connie Lindquist purchased the land in 1968 from Sandy Shores Development Corp. The property abutted North Shore Drive and was already platted as a subdivision.

“Once he bought his place in the ‘50s, he started developing an interest in the dunes across the street,” Sage said.

The Lindquists started buying property, not really knowing what they planned to do with it, he said.

At that time, Berwyck Street, which accessed North Shore Marina, was the only developed road in the property, according to information compiled by longtime Dunes Preserve Board member Jan Beukema.

Sage said Lindquist taught himself over the years how to appreciate the dunes environment.

The Nature Conservancy turned over the dune land to Central Michigan University for environmental studies. The university eventually returned the land to The Nature Conservancy.

In 1987, the City of Ferrysburg agreed to take over and manage the land, although it is officially within Grand Haven’s city limits.

After a long legal battle with developers and the City of Grand Haven, and with the help of local environmental groups, the conservancy purchased another 52 acres near North Shore Marina and added it to the preserve. In 1988, the City of Ferrysburg, with the help of a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant, purchased the newer acreage from the conservancy and joined it to the preserve.

A board was established to operate the preserve and Lindquist became a member, retiring in 2012, according to Ferrysburg City Manager Craig Bessinger.

According to his obituary, Lindquist graduated from Ottawa Hills High School in 1943, attended Kenyon College and graduated from the actuarial mathematics program at the University of Michigan. He had been the actuary of the Michigan Insurance Department, actuary and benefits manager for United Airlines, executive vice president of a life insurance company, and senior consultant for three national benefits firms.

Lindquist was a life member of The Nature Conservancy, the second chairman of the Lake Michigan Federation and chairman of the Michigan Shorelands Advisory Council. He had been a longtime member of the Racquet Club of Chicago and the University Club of Grand Rapids.

Lindquist is survived by his wife, Patsy; two daughters, Nancy (Eugene) Liedel and Susan Lindquist; stepdaughter, Cynthia (Donald) Brown; stepson, Paul Williamson and several grandchildren. Services have already been held.

In lieu of flowers, it is suggested that contributions be made to the Kitchel/Lindquist/Hartger Dunes Preservation Fund, 1 S. Harbor Ave., Grand Haven, MI 49417. 

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