2017-12-09 / People

Fundraiser To Honor Joe Plaza at His Corner


Joe Plaza at the corner of Main and Fort streets, where he stood for 35 years. He died in 2016 at the age of 86. Money is being raised for two picnic tables as a tribute to his contributions to Mackinac Island. Joe Plaza at the corner of Main and Fort streets, where he stood for 35 years. He died in 2016 at the age of 86. Money is being raised for two picnic tables as a tribute to his contributions to Mackinac Island. A memorial tribute to Joe Plaza, former Arrowhead Carriages owner, is underway. Picnic tables with his name will be installed in Marquette Park, paid for with funds being raised by community members, Mackinac State Historic Parks, and the Mackinac Island Community Foundation.

Joseph Andrew Plaza, who passed away November 7, 2016, at the age of 86, was a familiar figure at the corner of Marquette Park on Fort and Main streets, where he managed private sightseeing tours for 35 years. He wore a red vest and carried a clipboard, and loaded his own sightseeing surreys as well as those owned by Carriage Tours and Gough’s Livery. During the Lilac Festival, he would grab his clarinet and march with other musicians as members of the Scottville Clown Band.

He was a mainstay at the park during the summer, said friend Jodi Gough, and was respected for running a good and friendly business.

Mr. Plaza was a mortician in lower Michigan when he came to Mackinac Island and entered the restaurant business. He got into the horse business and founded Arrowhead Carriages in 1981, and he rarely left his post at the corner, from early spring until well into October.

He sold Arrowhead to Dale and Jodi Gough just before he died.

Visitors to the Island this summer noticed his absence. Mrs. Gough said her business received countless calls throughout the summer inquiring about him, and Mrs. Fisher, who has been instrumental in organizing the memorial project, spoke to hundreds more.

Almost enough money has been raised to purchase the first table, Mrs. Fisher said, and contributions can be made to the Mackinac Island Community Foundation before Sunday, December 31, at PO Box 1933 or by calling 847-3701.

Plaques to be installed on the tables will include a poem by local writer Peter Olson, “For Joe: Cornerkeeper, hearseman, licorice-stick clown, slide your gravel-voiced smile over us one more time, return the daily rhythm gone too soon…”

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When I lived on the Island

When I lived on the Island Joe and I used the laugh and I joked about writing a book "Joe Plaza was the last man to see my father naked" turns out Joe buried my father in 1977. I knew where he key was and often times delivered shim food. It was some time after we became friends that Joe and I discovered our connection.
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