2018-03-11 / Front Page

Dick Coulter remembered as ‘a legend’

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Dick Coulter Dick Coulter NORTH BRANCH — It’s difficult to find a person in the North Branch area whose life was not touched by Dick Coulter. Coulter, 83, passed away Thursday morning in his home.

Coulter was colloquially known as the “mayor” of the village of North Branch, and according to Bob Bryan, owner of Deerfield Township’s Bryan’s Supermarket, Coulter “did so much for so many people,” Bryan said. “I don’t think there was a person he didn’t know. We lost a legend.”

Coulter was born Dec. 1, 1934 in Lapeer and graduated from Lapeer High School in 1953. After serving in the United States Army, Coulter returned to Lapeer, and soon after started farm implement trading business Dick Coulter Inc.

Bryan said his father was close friends with Coulter and the pair “spent a lot of time carousing together,” and as a result, Bryan knew Coulter for much of his life. “He went out of his way for us,” he said, relating a story of Bryan’s wedding day, when a tent rented from Coulter suffered irreparable damage from a wind storm. “He refused to charge us for it, but he was definitely running out there trying to save it,” said Bryan.

According to Curt Carter, now-retired former president of Lapeer County Bank & Trust and good friend of Coulter’s, his favorite story of Coulter involved what started out as an innocent lunch meeting. “Dick was a customer of ours, the (bank’s) Head of Lending and I joined him for lunch at the Bourbon Barrel,” he said. “We met Dick for lunch at 12 and were home at 12:30…a.m.”

Carter referred to Coulter as “Mr. North Branch” and Coulter “has probably helped more farmers than anyone else in the county,” Carter continued. “He was always helping somebody and he was probably the biggest supporter of the 4-H auction.” Coulter was famous for his yearly steak fry that encouraged area farmers, with good food and a few beers, to open their wallets at the 4-H auction.

Lapeer County Board of Commissioners Chairman Gary Roy said he met Coulter through his involvement in 4-H. “It was back in the 70s, the first time I met Dick, I was living in Imlay City at the time and there were competitions between Imlay City and North Branch 4-H to see who could spend more money for the kids,” said Roy. “Dick always looked out for the people in the community, that’s the type of person he was.”

Coulter was well-known in the North Branch area for his farming as well as a tent rental business and a farming implement dealership. “He was always busy,” said Carter. “Farm equipment was where he could be the most helpful to guys.” And when it came to meetings with Coulter in North Branch, Carter said that no matter how much he protested, Coulter always handled the bill. “He told (servers) ‘no matter what he says, he’s not buying,’” said Carter. “’This is North Branch — your money’s no good here.’”

According to Kelly Martin, current North Branch village president, he and Coulter made fast friends. “He was one of the first people that I met when I moved (to North Branch) 21 years ago, and we ended up being good friends,” said Martin. “He couldn’t say enough and do enough for the people of North Branch, and he was larger than life in his personal life and his business life.”

And if Coulter was North Branch’s unofficial “mayor” while he was in town, he was just as much the village’s biggest goodwill ambassador on the road. Roy shared that he and Coulter spent time on hunting trips, and wherever they went, Coulter had one of his iconic “It’s a Beautiful Day in North Branch” ball caps.

“It didn’t matter where you were at the time, he always had those hats,” said Roy. “He left those hats across the country and he was always talking about how nice North Branch was.” Roy added that the Silver Dollar Bar in Lusk, Wyoming might still be a home to one of Coulter’s hats. “He had great times and bad times, but I never saw Dick without a smile.”

The family will be available for visitation from 4-8 p.m. on Monday, March 12 and from 2-8 p.m. Tuesday March 13 at Blackburn- Chapel Martin Funeral Home of North Branch on 4216 Huron St.

The funeral will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, March 14 with viewing at 10 a.m. at North Branch Wesleyan Church with Pastor Peter Damaska, Pastor Eric Coulter and Rev. Ron Hutchinson officiating. Coulter will be laid to rest next to his wife Candy in Westlawn Cemetery. Military Honors will be conducted by the North Branch American Legion Post No. 457.

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