At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance
P.O. Box 1013
Saugatuck, MI 49453
Outdoor Discovery Center
4214 56th Street
Holland, MI 49423
Life Story / Obituary
It is with deep sorrow that the family of former State Senator Patty Birkholz announces that Patty passed away on May 3, after a short battle with cancer.
Senator Birkholz was first elected to the Michigan Legislature in 1996 as the first woman State Representative from Allegan County. She served in the House from 1997-2002 and was elected the first female Republican Speaker Pro-Tempore. She was subsequently elected to the Michigan Senate in 2002 and served two terms from 2003-2008. In addition to her legislative offices, Ms. Birkholz served as Saugatuck Township Parks and Commission member, Saugatuck Township Trustee, and Allegan County Treasurer. She also served as President of the Saugatuck Dunes Friends of the State Park, on the Michigan State Parks Citizens Advisory Committee and the Oxbow Board of Directors.
Upon leaving the legislature, Senator Birkholz was appointed Director of the Office of the Great Lakes by Governor Rick Snyder and as the Michigan representative to the Great Lakes Commission. President Barack Obama appointed Senator Birkholz to the National Sea Grant Advisory Board, a position she continued to hold until her death.
Senator Birkholz was a passionate advocate for Michigan’s Natural Resources and passed significant legislation creating the Great Lakes Inter-Basin Compact, Water Withdrawal Assessment laws, the Michigan State Parks Passport, Ballast Water standards and renewable energy mandates.
In 2010, a 291-acre portion of the 1,000-acre Saugatuck Dunes State Park was renamed the “Patricia Birkholz Natural Area” by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
Patty is survived by her beloved three sons: Brent (Meridith Ridl) Birkholz of Saugatuck, Eric (Dr. Laurie) Birkholz of Saugatuck, Jason Birkholz of Hawaii, her precious granddaughters Hayden and Anna, her sister Joan and husband Frank Lamb of Saugatuck. She was preceded in death by her parents, Edward and Ruth Knoll and special niece, Kelly Burns-Mack.
The family will hold a private family service. An announcement regarding a Celebration of Life service will be made at a future date.
The family asks that contributions in remembrance of Senator Birkholz be made to the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance, P.O. Box 1013, Saugatuck, MI 49453 or www.saugatuckdunescoastalalliance.com; Ox-Bow Artists-in-Residence, Saugatuck at www.ox-bow/ox-donation, or the Outdoor Discovery Center, 4214 56th Street, Holland, MI 49423 or www.outdoordiscovery.org.