top banner

Obituary Listings

Harlan L. MacDowell

July 25, 1924 August 8, 2017
Harlan L. MacDowell
There are condolences waiting approval on Harlan's Tribute wall

Plant a tree in memory of Harlan

An environmentally friendly option
Obituary for Harlan L. MacDowell

Our beloved Harlan passed away August 8, 2017. Born July 25, 1924 in Grand Ledge, Michigan, he graduated from Grand Ledge High School then served in the U.S. Navy as a commissioned officer and pilot from 1942-45. He went on to obtain a BS in Engineering from General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) and then an MBA from Michigan State University. In 1947, he married his lifetime sweetheart, Betty Ann Rybolt. They briefly lived in Flint, then in the Detroit suburban community of Redford before settling in Farmington Hills until retirement. Betty and Harlan had five children, Marsha (C. Kurt Dewhurst), Bruce (Lynne), Douglas (Flor Flores), Clare Luz, and Paul (Frances Spring). Harlan’s early career was in automotive engineering, primarily managing large-scale projects. He worked for General Motors in Flint, Ford Motor Company in Detroit, then Chrysler Corporation from which he retired as plant manager for the Clairpointe Pre-Production Plant. He also took classes in clock repair at the Henry Ford Museum and fixing spring-wound clocks became a lifelong hobby and side business.

After his retirement, he and Betty moved to an 1850s farmstead in Grand Ledge where he maintained a 240-tree apple orchard for many years and became a master beekeeper and educator with a steady following of happy honey customers. Together, Betty and Harlan immersed themselves in leadership roles in the community including for the Grand Ledge Historical Society, the Grand Ledge Opera House, and Delta Presbyterian Church. Harlan also served as one of Eaton County’s longest-running elected commissioners and was a driving force in Grand Ledge to establish the Riverwalk along the Grand River. In 1988, he was tapped by Michigan State University to teach a class in manufacturing engineering and taught in the College of Engineering for a decade.

In addition to his children, he leaves behind his brothers Forrest MacDowell (Joyce) and Barry MacDowell (Carolyn) and his much beloved grandchildren: Marit Dewhurst (Nathan Sensel), Hugh MacDowell (Alyssa Beavers), Regina Abood (Zachary), Anne Pouch (Aaron), Conner Luz (Jordan), Ian MacDowell, Joseph Spring, Paula MacDowell-Romero, and Betty Ann MacDowell-Romero, and great-grandchildren, Leo Abood, Lincoln Abood, Desmondina Sensel-Dewhurst, and Elizabeth Larson.

Harlan instilled in his family a deep respect and appreciation for lifelong learning, creativity, travel, the beauty of nature, and a sense of service on behalf of others. He loved reading, music, playing cribbage, projects of any kind, being outdoors, and Betty’s piano playing; taking up piano lessons himself this past year. He especially treasured family and time together and worked to make family gatherings and trips happen whether it was Labor Day reunions, fishing, canoeing and camping expeditions, cross-country trips to visit his brothers, extended family and friends, or annual time spent in Sanibel, FL. He and Betty enjoyed traveling far and wide to investigate genealogy and to see and learn about other parts of the world.

Harlan was preceded in death by Betty Ann Rybolt MacDowell, his parents, Velma Middaugh Johnson and George Oliver MacDowell, his stepfather Leo Johnson, stepmother Ortha MacDowell, his brother Chester MacDowell and step-sister Kay Cypher.

Per Harlan’s request, memorial gifts can be given to the Michigan Stained Glass Census care of the Michigan State University Museum or the Grand Ledge Opera House. A celebration of life will be held at the Grand Ledge Opera House on Friday, September 22, 2017 - 1:00 p.m., followed by a reception and deserts. The family is being served by the Peters & Murray Funeral Home, Grand Ledge.

To plant a tree in memory of Harlan L. MacDowell, visit the Tribute Store.

Previous Events





1:00 PM 9/22/2017 1:00:00 PM
Grand Ledge Opera House

121 S. Bridge Street
Grand Ledge, MI 48837

Followed by a reception with deserts.

Grand Ledge Opera House
121 S. Bridge Street Grand Ledge 48837 MI
United States

Create new album
Subscribe To Obituaries


We appreciate your support
In accordance with the wishes of the family, this
message has been declined.