After 82 years of fighting for social justice and human rights, Edward Joseph LaForge conceded to heart disease in his home on Friday afternoon, in the arms of his partner and wife, Ann LaForge.
Ed's Passion for chocolate, family, and a good debate was surpassed only by his firm belief in equality. "We are all God's children," his father told him as a boy and Ed lived by those words for his entire life.
Ed never wavered in his fight for those who had no voice. From his early days as a member of Kalamazoo's Democratic Socialist Party, to 10 years as a public servant on the Kalamazoo City Commission, to his dream job as a Michigan Legislator, 60th District, Ed remained true to his inner sense of justice. Often, he would leave his seat in the Michigan House of Representatives and go to the lobby and ask loudly, "Where are the children's' lobbyists? Anyone lobbying for poor people here?" Ed didn't need to be lobbied to do the right thing. He co-authored Michigan's' first Early Childhood Education bill long before early childhood education became a popular trend. Twenty years before the Supreme Court ruled to allow same sex marriage, Ed LaForge was one of a handful of legislators who voted to legalize same sex marriage in Michigan. Ed championed women's equality and reproductive rights and became one of Jennifer Granholm's early supporters as she ran to be Michigan's first woman governor.
When not changing the world through legislation and social action, Ed was a "Jack of all trades" and made a living as a plumber & pipefitter (Kalamazoo Plumbers & Pipefitters, UA Local 357), a nurse, a carpenter, and a mentor for inspiring politicians.
Ed was lucky enough to be tolerated by two wonderful women, Gayle Manders Cook and Ann LaForge. Ed and Gayle, high school sweethearts, had eight children together, all of whom share their parents' belief that we are at our best when we uplift our most vulnerable. The baton was warmly passed to Ann LaForge in 1995 and Ed inherited a business partner, a political soul mate, and a best friend, along with two more sons. "There is an Ed-sized hole in our hearts," said one of Ed's twenty grand children who knew a man deeply rooted in family and unconditional love. While Ed was lucky enough to meet his three beautiful great grandchildren, we are sad that they will miss Ed's epic dance moves and inappropriate jokes. Friends and colleagues throughout Kalamazoo and Michigan will miss Ed's quick humor, keen intellect, and love for life. Whether he was dressed as a pirate, dancing his butt off at a wedding, or marching in a rally for civil rights, Ed inspired joy for life, passion for family, and justice for all. The world will never be the same.
Ed's family would like to honor his memory with the same gusto with which he lived his life. A memorial service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 25th at Langeland Family Funeral Homes, Westside Chapel, 3926 S. 9th Street, Kalamazoo.
A reception will be held immediately following at the Kalamazoo Plumbers & Pipefitters UA Local 357, 11847 Shaver Road, Schoolcraft.
Ed was a prolific charitable giver. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that the community consider a donation to one of the following charities:
Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes (http://kzoolf.org
Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity (https://habitatkalamazoo.org
Metropolitan Kalamazoo Branch NAACP (https://www.naacpkalamazoo.org
JAN 25. 04:00 PM - 05:00 PM
Kalamazoo Plumbers & Pipefitters UA Local 357
11847 Shaver Road
Schoolcraft, MI, US, 49087