Jack Bails

November 23, 2020


Jack Deverick Bails peacefully passed away on November 23, 2020 from pancreatic cancer at Munson Hospice House in Traverse City, MI with his wife at his side. Jack was born in Kansas City, MO on August 7, 1941 to Vessie Deverick Bails and Gwin Bails. Jack was predeceased by his parents and siblings, Gwendolyn Oliver, Jerry Bails and Joe Bails. He was also predeceased by nephews Peter and Douglas Oliver, as well as his sister-in-law and brother-in-law Judy and David Ferry.

He is survived by Janis McBain Bails, his wife of 55 years, and children, Sarah Mims (Randy), Alissa Estrada (Jose), and John Bails (Kimberly). He leaves behind his beloved grandchildren, Kate Mims, Jacob Mims, Laura Estrada, Deverick Bails, and Orlando Bails.

Jack loved fishing and spending time with family and friends at his home on Lake Missaukee in Lake City, MI. All the grandchildren got fishing lessons at the end of the dock over the years.

Jack received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Michigan State University and remained a steadfast Spartan. He was honored with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Distinguished Service Award and was a member of the Farm Lane Society. Jack loved Spartan athletics and had been a basketball season ticket holder at Jenison Fieldhouse and the Breslin Center for nearly 40 years.

Jack frequently remarked how fortunate he was to have work that he loved. As a newly-minted fisheries biologist, he was excited to be a key figure in the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s introduction of Coho and Chinook salmon into the Great Lakes in the 1960s. He also had integral roles in the development of the Pigeon River Management Plan, the Michigan Land Trust Fund, the Polluter Pay Act, the Michigan Endangered Species Act, and headed Michigan’s first environmental enforcement division. He retired from the Michigan DNR as a deputy director in 1992. Jack then went on to work for Public Sector Consultants where he directed the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust and developed watershed management plans for the Rouge River, Muskegon River, Saginaw Bay, Boardman River, Portage Lake and Bear Lake. Jack also served as a member of the East Lansing Planning Commission and Bath Parks and Recreation Committee, as well as a youth basketball coach for his children.

A celebration of Jack’s life will be held at a later date once it is safer to gather for events. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution in Jack’s memory to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, 150 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 700, Chicago, IL 60610 ( where he had served as a board member for many years. Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Burkholder Family Funeral Home in McBain. Thoughts and prayers may be left at

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