David Balas transitioned very peacefully on October 1, 2019 at home with his loving husband of 37 years, Jim Sellman by his side. David was born January 16, 1952 in Mt. Clemens, Michigan to Jerome and Eunice Balas (both precede David in death). He is also survived by his twin brother Philip (Laura) Balas and sister Leslie Balas, niece Sarah Balas-Densen (Chad Densen, Ryan, Leni) and nephews Eric Balas (Caden) and Jared Cohen, all from Florida. And many other loving extended family members from Canada and throughout the US.
David graduated high school in 1970 from Grosse Pointe University School/University Ligget. He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio from 1970 until 1974 where he earned his Bachelors Degree. From 1974 until 1977 he attended the University of Toledo School of Law where he earned his JD. Upon graduation from Law School, he worked briefly with the Washtenaw County Prosecutors Office. He began his career with the Michigan Attorney General’s Office in March of 1979 and worked there until his retirement in 2003. During his tenure with the Attorney General, David was legal counsel to the Michigan Department of Transportation as well as counsel to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission. He was promoted to Head of the Retirement Division within the Attorney General Office. For the last several years of his career, he oversaw the retirement plans for government employees, legislators, judges, state police, teachers until 2003.
David and Jim resided in East Lansing, Michigan from 1982 until 2003 and built their home in Saugatuck, Michigan in 1995 were they currently reside. While in East Lansing, David was an elected official on the East Lansing City Council from 1983 to 1995. David was a trail blazer when he started his Council tenure. He authored and subsequently got passed the East Lansing Clean Indoor Act which was Michigan’s first non-smoking ordinance for dining establishments. Having success with that, he authored and helped to enact the East Lansing Handgun Safety Ordinance which read someone needed to pass a safety class prior to getting a handgun permit from the City. This was a very controversial ordinance, but David persevered. There were many other social and environmental ordinances and causes he supported while on Council that benefited the residents of East Lansing and beyond. While living in East Lansing, David loved attending MSU Football games, MSU Hockey games, and theatre at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts.
In true David fashion, he embraced and became involved in the community and Saugatuck’s culture. David served on the Board of Directors for Mason Street Warehouse equity theatre in Saugatuck from 2004 until the merger of Mason Street and the Saugatuck Center for the Arts in 2012. He was a member of the Saugatuck Historic District Commission from 2007 until 2009. David is a member of the Board for the American Lung Association from 2000 until the present. He is also a Trustee Member for the Board of the Allegan County Community Foundation. He has also served in many different Board capacities for the Ox-Bow School of Art from 2003 to the present.
David’s commitment to the various boards and commissions was because of his love of people. He was truly devoted to bettering the lives of others young and old. He loved the arts of all types and took a major role to see that they were accessible to all. David had a passion for meeting new people whether it was a fellow board member or on his travels to Key West, the Caribbean, or Mexico, he wanted to be introduced or introduce himself to others. He loved meeting new people because he was a firm believer that there is always something to be learned from interacting with someone else. He loved entertaining others along with Jim in their home in Saugatuck. Their parties were always fun and had a purpose. He had gatherings for various artists who visit Saugatuck Douglas to enhance the lives of residents and visitors. He wanted to show gratitude to them for being a part of our lives.
David was a member of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in East Lansing. Upon moving to Saugatuck, David joined Temple Emanuel in Grand Rapids. There will be a funeral service at 10:00 am on Thursday, October 3, 2019 at Temple Emanuel at 1715 Fulton Street, Grand Rapids, MI. Burial will follow at Riverside Cemetery in Saugatuck. Jim and the family will receive guests following the burial for an evening of Shiva at the home of David and Jim in Saugatuck. There will be Celebration of Bigger than Life at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts on October 25, 2019 (details to follow). In lieu of flowers, David requested that any donations be sent to the following organizations: Ox-Bow School of Art, Saugatuck Center for the Arts, or the Allegan County Community Foundation Balas-Sellman Fund.
May David’s memory be a blessing to everyone.
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