Former state rep, senator Pridnia dies

PORT AUSTIN — Described as a man who was hard working and generous by those who knew him, former 106th District Rep. John Pridnia lived his life to serve his family and communities in Northeast Michigan.

Pridnia died Thursday after a two-year battle with ALS. The former Harrisville resident served for eight years in the state House and an addition eight years in the state Senate. He continued to work to support the community by helping lead farmers market and harbor projects in Port Austin where he lived until he died.

Survived by his wife Patricia, and sons, John, David and Chris, Pridnia was a family man, according to former employee Bev Bodem, who also succeeded Pridnia in the 106th District seat. She replaced him when Pridnia successfully won the 36th Senate seat.

“p1″>”He was such a caring person  and would do anything for his family,” Bodem said. “When his parents got older they moved in with him and he took care of them when they were elderly. John was just a great person who had a big heart.”

While in the House, Bodem said Pridnia served on the Michigan Conservation and Environment Committee, which was important to him because of the passion he had for the outdoors. She said he also worked hard to help small businesses.

“He was a business owner himself, so related to the struggles small businesses faced,” Bodem said. “He loved to hunt, fish and snowmobile and just have fun outside when he could.”

Bodem said she worked for Pridnia as a campaign coordinator during one of his  campaigns. She also worked in his office in Alpena and Lansing. She said he is a large reason she decided to get into politics and eventually serve in the state House. Bodem took what she learned from Pridnia and passed in on to others. She still works closely with Republicans who are running for office or already elected.

“He was a mentor of mine in politics and he was always very good to work for,” Bodem said. “He was very influential to me.”

Dennis Grenkowicz was Alpena County Republican chairman in 1986 and again in 1990. He said he has fond memories of Pridnia and always respected his work ethic. He said Pridnia always stood as the voice of all the people he represented.

“He wasn’t interested in being a part of the Lansing establishment. He was interested in serving the people and he didn’t care if they were Republican, Democrat or independent,” Grenkowicz said. “He was a fixture in Northeast Michigan and was everywhere. He was always at meetings, conferences or meeting with constituents. He was a hard worker and very passionate.”

A pair of memorial services will take place Friday in Port Austin and the funeral will be Saturday.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.