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Twenty six years ago Dan & Julene Buenz visited friends at Gravel Lake. They were looking for lake property and someone told them to try Michigan instead of Wisconsin. After searching around southwestern Michigan, Dan found the perfect house that met all their criteria for their family to spend summer weekends and vacations-- on 86th Ave at Lake of the Woods. It was the beginning of their love affair with Lake of the Woods. (Speaking of love, Dan and Julene were high school sweethearts! Julene was a pom-pom girl & on the drill team. Dan was a football player!)
It was also the beginning of many home projects! The most important project was the porch on the front (lake side) of the house. Their house is a small seasonal cottage with only 2 bedrooms, so the porch added almost as much square footage as the house had! They really live in that space. Julene's favorite project that Dan built was their outdoor shower! When Julene described it to me it sounded like a spa with fancy soaps, etc. They really have made use of this shower because they have lots of family who visit them at the lake cottage! When they have family reunions everyone wants to stay at their cottage, so Dan says he has to walk over sleeping bodies scattered on the floor! But everyone has a great time!
In years past, Julene remembers water skiing in the fall while hunters were shooting their guns! She doesn't water ski in the fall anymore!
Dan retired as deputy chief from the Elmhurst Police Department, near Chicago. In 1989, to earn extra income, he started a commercial and residential fence company with his brother. After working both jobs full time for 3 years, he sold the business to his brother. Then, after retiring from the police department, he went back to the fence company where he now works for his brother.
Julene is an insurance broker and she still works full time.
Their family members include a son, Justin, who is married and lives in California. Justin and his wife have a son making Dan and Julene new grandparents. Their daughter, Breanne, is married to an Air Force Pilot, and lives in Florida. When they retire they plan on visiting their children in the winter. . .often!
Julene likes all kinds of water sports, especially kayaking. She enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family. Dan enjoys doing house projects including ones like the outdoor shower. He also likes making stained glass projects, which he learned to do from his father! (See pictures below)
Dan and Julene used to take their speed boat to other lakes and have been on most of the lakes in Southwest Michigan. Now, they take their kayaks and Julene says people at other lakes are more friendly when they kayak.
After living on LOW for so many years they have seen many changes on and around the lake. Their biggest concern is preserving the natural state of the lake. Farm chemical run-off is concerning, as well as, invasive water species that makes it difficult to maintain the ecological balance that keeps wildlife vibrant on our lake. They love to watch the turtles lay eggs on their beach.
I asked them what they wished the area around LOW had, but currently does not. They answered: "good pizza (we are from Chicago), maybe more nightlife. But the stuff we come here for isn't the restaurants!"