Longtime Shanty Creek employee passes

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Charlie Johnson


BELLAIRE – The Bellaire area received a shock last week with the news that longtime Shanty Creek employee Charlie Johnson had passed away.

Johnson, 84, died peacefully on Monday, Feb. 11 at Meadow Brook Medical Care in Bellaire. He had been in hospice care at the facility for a short time.

Born in Shelby, Johnson spent most of his life in the Bellaire area, with the exception of a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, where he witnessed several early atomic bomb tests in the Nevada desert, and later became a proud member of the National Association of Atomic Veterans.

He was never married and in his later years spent a quiet life at his home near Alden with his cats, television and newspapers, enjoying the Michigan lottery and an occasional trip to the casino.

Retired in 2017, Johnson worked at the resort for 52 years, starting out in 1965 as a front desk manager, night manager and finally, as banquet manager, gaining hundreds of friends along the way.

Some of those friends shared their memories of Johnson last week.

"I was one of the fortunate ones to sit by Charlie’s bedside at Meadow Brook just a day before his passing," said Gayle Hardy, of Bellaire. "As one of his banquet wait staff in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, Charlie made an incredible impact on me. His professionalism and grace with guests and employees inspired me to be the best I could be. It was an honor to know Charlie Johnson."

Cecilia MacDonald, now of Holland, agreed.

"He was the best trainer, friend and gentleman a girl could have had in their life," said MacDonald. "He was a true believer of exceptional customer service for a customer, no matter if that person was a millionaire or a hard-working bloke. I learned so much on the skill of working with people from Charlie Johnson."

Skylar Hawkins, of Bellaire, echoed that sentiment.

"Charlie was one of the hardest working, most caring men I’ve ever known," said Hawkins. "He was three or four times the age of most of the people working at Shanty Creek when I worked with him, and he worked just as hard, if not harder than everyone else. I remember people coming in long after he had retired, asking, ‘Where’s Charlie?’ or ‘I met Charlie 30 years ago, is he still here?’ and that happened all the time."

Bellaire's Bryan Hardy, who worked at Shanty Creek for a number of years, met Johnson in 1979.

"Charlie was always impeccably groomed and dressed, always smiling, with the response ‘Fantastic!’ when you asked him how he was,” Hardy said. “He was in charge of Priority One guest relations classes, and he made them fun and interesting for everyone.

"Charlie not only cared about the Shanty Creek guest, but employees, property owners and certainly those special return guests we saw frequently," Hardy continued. "Everyone wanted to see Charlie. He was always professional and rarely sat at a table, but stood, almost at attention, making those special people feel even more special."

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