2012-03-08 / Front Page

Couple decides to build local retirement home after several trips through area


Roy and Linda Shankel Roy and Linda Shankel Editor’s note: This week we continue our series on people who have chosen Schoolcraft County as a retirement destination or second home. In this installment, Jerry Mattson introduces us to Roy and Linda Shankel.

To travel from their home in Breckenridge, near Saginaw, to their son’s home in Reedsville, Wis., Roy and Linda Shankel have a choice of going by way of the U.P. or Chicago. Most of their trips take them on U.S. 2 through Manistique.

During one trip, on a nice sunny day, they stopped at the Harbor View Subdivision east of town where property was for sale. They walked through the brush and down to the Lake Michigan beach, and agreed that it was beautiful there.

On each trip through the area, they watched for the for sale sign on the property they had looked at. Each time, it was still there. They began to talk about the possibility of retiring to the area.

It was about two years later, on another trip, when Linda said, “If that sign is still up when we are on our way home, that place is mine.”

It was, and they called the real estate office. After an offer and then a counter-offer, a deal was made. The property was theirs.

Initially, it was to be a place to park their camper but, before long, they were making plans to build a house.

The home was constructed by local people and they tried to utilize businesses from town for whatever else they needed.

“The reception from the people up here was pretty good because of that,” said Roy.

For the past six years, they have been spending a lot of time at their place on U.S. 2. They travel to Manistique about two times per month and stay for many three and four-day weekends.

“That is my dream home,” said Linda.

She actually spends more time at their retirement home than he does. However, he is finding, with new technology, he can spend more time there also.

“With an iPad and smart phone, I can do a lot of work from there,” said Roy.

They own the Breckenridge Insurance Agency of Michigan, where Roy has been in business for 25 years. Prior to buying the agency that has been in business since 1902 he farmed for 15 years. He plans to retire sometime in 2014.

A lot of farming is still done in that area of mid-Michigan, but some of the property has been taken over by wind farms. Many of the huge metal structures with spinning blades can be seen around Breckenridge.

As a reminder of the agricultural farming, many red and green, collectible farm tractors fill shelves on the walls in Roy‘s office.

In addition to the scale models on display, he also has 11 full-sized old tractors he has restored. He also has a 1936 International stake truck that still runs well, but needs to be refreshed. This equipment will probably stay where it is after they move, since he has found there aren’t many old tractor events held in the U.P.

But, there is a big event held at the fairgrounds in Escanaba each year, and he did buy some hunting property not far away from where they will be living. A shed could be put up there, so maybe someday a couple of the tractors could find a new home.

The rural nature of Manistique is a big part of what they like about the town. It reminds them of the small towns where they grew up. Roy is from Breckenridge and Linda is from Pewamo, about 50 miles away.

“Some people say there are no big stores and nothing to do in the U.P., but that is part of what drew us up there,” said Roy.

They both get enjoyment from watching wildlife near their home. One day they saw two wolves, one on their walkway to the beach and one on a nearby sand dune. A bear was seen on the beach nearby and they love to watch the bald eagles.

Linda is an amateur photographer and will likely add many more wildlife and nature photos to her collection over time.

People asked them why they decided to move north instead of south when they retired.

“I like the quiet, and he likes the snow,” said Linda.

In her quiet time, she plays piano, accordion and works on her stamp collection. She also crochets, quilts, does needlework and knits afghans along with sweaters and hats for the grandkids.

With the addition of five more grandchildren in 2011, she has kept busy with her knitting needles.

Roy likes to see winter come, as he enjoys the excitement of snowmobiling. With his other enginepowered hobbies, however, he has slowed down.

Until five years ago, Roy could be found at the Mid-Michigan Motorplex, and other area drag strips, competing in his 1973 Dodge Charger. Now, instead of going over 110 miles per hour on the strip, he cruises at 5 mph on one of his restorations at a vintage tractor meet.

He sold the Dodge, but it is still being raced and the name of the family insurance business is painted on the quarter panels. Roy is one of the car’s sponsors.

Hunting is another of Roy’s interests. He is getting ready to build some elevated blinds to put on his nearby acreage.

The Shankels enjoy the celebrations held each year in Manistique including the parades, special shows and particularly the Memorial Day festivities.

“They do a real nice job putting those things on,” Roy said.

They have found that everyone they deal with has been real nice and very helpful.

“It feels like home,” he said.

What changes would he like to see that might make it a better place? He would like to see the improvements at the harbor continue. He feels the harbor is a real asset to the area.

They have made friends with several people in town and sometimes they will get a group together and go out to dinner at one of the local restaurants.

The closeness of the people in town is one thing they really like. When they checked in to the EconoLodge one time, the desk clerk said, “We heard you were coming up this weekend.” They were a bit surprised to hear that, but liked the idea that people watched out for each other.

Another time, when they were downstate, a winter storm knocked a tree over and some branches had hit the house.

“We got around six calls from people telling us about the tree,” said Linda.

“We love it up there. It’s really hard to come back home (to Breckenridge),” she added.

In a couple more years, they won’t have to worry about that. Their ‘real’ home will be in the U.P.

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