John "Jack" Norman Ozanich, age 76, of Paw Paw, passed away Friday May 29, 2020. 

He was born June 23, 1943 in Paw Paw, the son of the late John Ozanich and Irene (Juriga) Ozanich. 

Jack graduated from Paw Paw High School class of 1961 then went on to serve honorably in the Army from 1965-1967.  Jack was an Engineer for the Grand Trunk Railroad and retired #1 when he had enough. He enjoyed Civil War history, model railroading, reading novels, muscle cars and nature. He was a Detroit Tigers fan and NASCAR #2 Brad Keselowski’s fan who was a distant cousin. He was loved by all that took the time to know him and will be missed by all of those folks. 

Jack started the HO railroad called the AGE (Atlantic Great Eastern) when he lived in Paw Paw and built the final version in his basement in Battle Creek where he would have operating sessions that were controlled by a dispatcher who followed the Time Table and issued Train orders to keep the railroad traffic moving.  Many from across America have been guests in his basement to bring the railroad to life and if you goofed, you would find out about it and why it was important to not do it.

He was invited to Ann Arbor to see a live steam railroad that was used to do work outside.  On his way home, he asked his friend John Korstange if they could do that and the Sandy Ridge & Clear Lake Railway was started.  John Korstange (Mel was his nickname after Mel Caswell, the old guy who kept the Sandy River running for many years) was a builder of rolling stock and Jack loved to build track.  They were off to a great journey in live steam together. 

One of them saw an article in Live Steam magazine about a guy in Canada who had a engine that was the same scale as the Sandy Ridge equipment.  Jack wrote a letter to him and he brought his engine down to run it on the railroad.  He had problems with it on the switches as he built it to the gauge of 7 ¼ which was the main one up there and Jack used 7.5.  Jim Small the gentleman from Toronto was so impressed, he re-gauged his loco to 7.5 and it worked really well. 

Once enough track was down, operating sessions were run and a time table was developed.  This brought on a need for more rolling stock so Mel made drawings so those that were interested could build cars.  Jack was worried about fires, as we started one early on, so we did a lot of winter railroading.  That required a plow, so Mel made one of those.  Jack used the railroad to collect wood for his wood boiler and for the stove in the roundhouse plus move rocks for his stone fence in the front of the property and play in the snow with the train. 

The railroad had one more trestle to build to finish the mainline to the final town of Ridgeview.  It now will have to wait till Jack comes back to us in a young man with a dream to continue.  Rest in peace JNO and may all the order boards be clear for you!

 -  provided by  Tom Casper,  part from his Obituary, plus some history to his private railroad start.

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