Michael Young - City Manager

Rockford, Michigan, January 27, 2016 – After more than two decades of distinguished leadership, Rockford City Manager Michael F. Young has passed away after a stroke.

Mr. Young was surrounded by family and friends during his last days. He died on the afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 27 after suffering a stroke on Monday. He was 48 years old.

Remembered as a passionate, dedicated and respected city leader, Mr. Young and his family – wife, Melissa, and children Michaela, Mackenzie and Jake – were interwoven in the fabric of the Rockford community. A scholarship in his honor, the Michael F. Young ’90, ‘94 Scholarship Fund, has been set up at Grand Valley State University by his colleagues in the municipal community.

On February 8th Rockford’s City Council convened and appointed Chief of Public Safety Dave Jones as Interim City Manager and City Clerk, Christine Bedford as Deputy City Manager.

“The word ‘excellent’ doesn’t do Michael justice,” Mayor Gerald Coon said. “He was a visionary as an administrator for our city, able to look 20 years down the road and see what needs to be done to make Rockford a better place.

“Rockford was truly fortunate to have Michael. He was a good leader and was always full of optimism.”

Chief Jones agreed, adding: “Michael was totally committed to the Department of Public Safety – and to the City of Rockford. I am honored to have called him both ‘boss’ and ‘friend.’ We have enjoyed a long and wonderful professional relationship that has transcended the office. My family and I will miss him immensely.”

At the age of 28, Mr. Young was appointed city manager of Rockford in 1995, after working for the City of Greenville and the Village of Spring Lake. His public service work started in 1990 as an intern in Spring Lake under the tutelage of then City Manager Eric DeLong, who is currently deputy city manager of Grand Rapids.

During his tenure in Rockford, Mr. Young led many important initiatives, including:

  • The construction of a $52 million wastewater treatment system in collaboration with Cannon, Courtland, Plainfield and Alpine townships.
  • The consolidation of police and fire departments into a unified public safety department, allowing all officers to be cross-trained.
  • A revitalization of Downtown Rockford, making it a destination for shoppers, diners and tourists.
  • The procurement of more than $4 million in grant money through the state of Michigan.

“Michael was the consummate leader in the municipal field,” said Dan Gilmartin, executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “He had the respect of his council because of his professionalism. He had the trust of his peers because of his character. You can’t replace guys like Michael.”

Active professionally, Mr. Young was wrapping up a year as president of the Michigan Local Government Management Association. Prior to his election as president, he served in numerous leadership roles within the organization.

“Michael was a very respected, accomplished and beloved city manager, colleague and friend,” said Dale Kerbyson, president-elect of MLGMA and city manager of Lapeer. “As president of the Michigan Local Government Management Association, he served with great passion – the same passion he carried for municipal service within his own community.

“He was a great leader and champion for our profession and the local communities we serve. He will be deeply missed.”

Mr. Young also served as an ex officio member of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, board member of Grand Valley Metro Council, treasurer of the Kent County Dispatch Authority, chair of the North Kent Sewer Authority and a member of the REGIS board of directors.

Born in Chicago, Mr. Young grew up in Grand Haven. He was an accomplished wrestler during high school and college at GVSU, where he pursued a bachelor of science in public administration with an emphasis on urban planning and management. He also held a master’s degree in public administration, also from GVSU.

Mr. Young shared his love for wrestling with others as a coach, sharing his talents first at Grand Haven High School and GVSU and more recently at Rockford High School. He also served as a referee for the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Mr. Young is survived by his wife, Melissa, daughters Michaela (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) and Mackenzie (Baltimore), and son Jake, who is a senior at Rockford High School.

Michael F. Young has served as Rockford City Manager since 1995. Prior to working for Rockford, he worked for the City of Greenville and the Village of Spring Lake.

Contact the Interim City Manager at 616 866 1537.

Appointed by the City Council to serve as the City’s chief administrative officer, the City Manager is responsible for handling day-to-day oversight of city operations. The Manager provides administrative direction for all city departments in accordance with the goals and policies established by the City Council.

Major responsibilities of the City Manager include:

  • Providing recommendations to the City Council during the policy making process and implementing policy where Council has formulated a course of action.
  • Recommends and implements the goals of the City Council and the items contained in the City’s annual budget and capital improvement programs.
  • Directs and supervises all staff to assure that policies of the City Council and provisions of the City Charter are executed efficiently and effectively.