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Published: Thursday, 12/28/2000

Tecumseh residents named park to honor city manager

TECUMSEH - Calvin Zorn, a retired Tecumseh city manager and a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, died Tuesday in Herrick Memorial Hospital. He was 75.

Mr. Zorn died of congestive heart failure, his daughter, Pamela Pardee, said. He had his first heart attack when he was 45 years old, and he had been in declining health.

One of 15 children who grew up on a Monroe County farm, Mr. Zorn graduated from Dundee High School in 1943 and served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He attended Michigan State University and graduated in 1951 with a bachelor's degree in engineering.

Mr. Zorn worked for the Michigan Department of Highways and was stationed near Bay City, Mich., for several years before he was hired as city engineer by the city of Tecumseh, Ms. Pardee said. He was city engineer and acting city manager until he was appointed Tecumseh's full-time city manager in 1963.

He was in the post for 22 years, retiring in 1985 amid accolades from Tecumseh residents, who named a south side city park the Cal Zorn Recreation Park in his honor. Three years ago, Mr. Zorn received the Musgrove Evans Award from the residents of Tecumseh in recognition of his service to the city.

“While he was working, he thoroughly enjoyed his job,” Ms. Pardee said. “After his retirement, he enjoyed his grandkids, playing cards with his friends, watching birds from a back window, gardening while he still could, sketching scenes from nature, and oil painting.”

Mr. Zorn and his wife, Toby, met in the ninth grade at Dundee High School, after Mr. Zorn transferred there from a one-room schoolhouse. They went their separate ways after high school graduation, but they stayed in contact through the war, and were married on Sept. 22, 1950.

“He was a cute farm boy,” Mrs. Zorn said. “I think he was most proud of having a city park named after him.”

Mr. Zorn was a member of the Michigan Chapter of the International City Management Association, a former member of the Lenawee County board of Supervisors, the Region II Planning Commission, Jackson, Mich., and was a former member of the Rotary and the Jaycees.

Kari Pardee, a granddaughter, said that she was most impressed by her grandfather's intelligence, and she noted that he helped “to train quite a few city managers.” She added that Mr. Zorn taught her how to play euchre, which was one of his favorite card games.

Mr. Zorn was the first of his family to graduate from college. His daughter said her father and two of his siblings were the only ones to attend high school.

“He had a successful career. I think he was very proud of that,” Ms. Pardee said. “He was quiet and sensitive, but when his heart began to fail, he was a fighter all the way. I think he wanted to live in the year 2000, so that he could share with my mother their 50th wedding anniversary.”

Surviving are his wife, Toby; sons, Michael and Darrell; daughter, Pamela Pardee; sisters, Hazel Brossia, Juanita Brossia, and Janet Hoffman, and seven grandchildren.

The body will be in the Tecumseh Chapel of Couture-Handler Funeral Home from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 tonight.

Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the Tecumseh United Methodist Church, where the body will be after 10 a.m.

The family requests tributes to the Herrick Memorial Hospital Heart Fund, or to a charity of the donor's choice.

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