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Boston – Navy Submarine Veteran –Mesothelioma Death
Kalamazoo County commissioner GradyBiby, 69, dies from cancer
By Kathy Jessup |Kalamazoo Gazette
February 04, 2010, 11:34PM
KALAMAZOO— GradyBiby stunned his fellowKalamazooCounty commissioners in late July when he announced he would be absent for two months as he battled cancer.
The Texas Township Republican was never able to return to the board.
The 69-year-old, four-term county commissioner on Wednesday lost his battle withmesothelioma, a cancer that he attributed to his years aboard Navy submarines that were likely riddled with asbestos.
Biby’s widow, Linda Kerr, was the first to seek elected office after the couple moved toTexasTownship in the 1990s and she ran for township clerk. Later, her husband joined the township’s Zoning Board of Appeals before being elected to the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners in 2002.
“Grady was not given to making speeches, but he would always be prepared and look at what was good for the people of the county,” PeterBattani,KalamazooCounty administrator, said Thursday. “He was a good man and a thoroughly good commissioner.”
DebBuchholtz, county board vice chairman, saidBiby’s cancer announcement in July was met with “shock and grief.”
“It was clear it was a serious diagnosis,”Buchholtz said. “He had hoped there would be some new, experimental treatments that could help him.”
Kerr said doctors at an internationally knownmesothelioma treatment center inBoston found too much cancer attached to the lining of her husband’s chest cavity for surgery to be effective. So he returned toMichigan for chemotherapy.
“This wasn’t the outcome we prayed for,” she said. “But you die how you live and Grady hung on to the bitter end.”
County board Chairman DavidBuskirk saidBiby gave fellow commissioners copies of the book “Same Kind of Different As Me” a year ago.
“I’m not a great reader, so I was struggling with it. But it’s about two people who are opposites who came together and learned that life was about a lot more than just themselves,”Buskirk said. “That’s how he dealt with people.
“TexasTownship will never know how great a representative they had.”
Born inOklahoma,Biby spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring in 1979. After his discharge, he went to work for Consumers Energy at the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant near South Haven until his retirement in 1995. Later, he formed his own company with the help of a relative and also worked for a local construction company and the U.S. Census Bureau.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by four children and 10 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a son.
A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Calvary Reformed Church,7829 S. Fifth St., with Pastor Greg VanHeukelom officiating.