Shores recognizes retired DPW supervisor for years of dedicated service

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 12, 2023

 Grosse Pointe Shores Department of Public Works Supervisor Harold Michaux, who served the city for more than 30 years, also grew up in the Shores, in a house down the street from Shores City Hall.

Grosse Pointe Shores Department of Public Works Supervisor Harold Michaux, who served the city for more than 30 years, also grew up in the Shores, in a house down the street from Shores City Hall.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — For decades, Grosse Pointe Shores Department of Public Works Supervisor Harold Michaux was a friendly, familiar face to residents and city employees alike, as well as someone who could be trusted to fix any problems that arose.

And while Shores residents will likely still run into Michaux around town — he’s a longtime Grosse Pointe Woods resident — he’ll no longer be repairing broken water mains, caring for landscaping, planting flowers or tackling any of the multitude of responsibilities he shouldered in the Shores’ small DPW. Michaux, 66, officially retired June 30, after a 36-year career with the city.

“My favorite part (of working for the Shores) would have to be the people I work for and the people I work with,” Michaux said.

The Shores City Council presented Michaux with a crystal plaque at its June 20 meeting, bestowing upon him what Mayor Ted Kedzierski said was the highest honor they could give him.

“It’s been the best 36 years,” Michaux said during the meeting. “I would not trade this for the world. It’s been great. … It’s hard to say goodbye.”

City Councilman John Seago echoed a sentiment maintained by a number of other officials.

“Congratulations to Harold Michaux on his service to the city,” Seago said. “We’re all going to miss him.”

Current Department of Public Works Director Mike Way said Michaux has known Way his entire life, having once lived two houses from the Way family in St. Clair Shores. Way got his start in Grosse Pointe Shores as a seasonal employee in 1997, where Michaux was his supervisor.

“As a seasonal employee, we all knew that Harold was the guy to go to for any kind of issue that would pop up,” Way recalled. “He took care of all the seasonal employees year after year (and) he took care of the full-time employees. He definitely leaves some very big shoes that may never be filled in the way that he did.”

Way said Michaux was instrumental in helping him as Way transitioned into the DPW directorship about three years ago.

“For 36 years, Harold faithfully served the residents of Grosse Pointe Shores,” Way said during the June 20 council meeting. “For most of his time here, he was the buildings and grounds supervisor, but in reality, there wasn’t a department that Harold didn’t work in or supervise.”

Michaux said he worked part-time for a couple of years in the Shores and then got a full-time job working as a supervisor in Grosse Pointe Park’s DPW. After three years in the Park, he said former Shores Village Manager Mike Kenyon called him and asked him if he’d like to return to the Shores after a full-time DPW position opened up.

When Michaux started, DPW members were also auxiliary firefighters — something that’s no longer the case.

He said he’s proudest of “working together with all of the guys at getting things done, and putting fires out, too.”

Michaux is too modest to toot his own horn, but friends and colleagues are quick to sing his praises.

Former Shores Parks and Recreation Director Jim Cooke, who worked for the DPW before being named to run the park, has known Michaux for about 44 years. When he started his career in the Shores in September 1978, Cooke actually worked with Michaux’s father, Harold Michaux Sr.

“Harold is first and foremost a tremendously dedicated family man,” Cooke said. “And he’s an extremely hard worker.”

When Harold Michaux Sr. retired, Cooke got his locker. Harold Michaux Jr.’s locker ended up being next to Cooke’s. When Cooke retired roughly 13 years ago, he thought it was only fitting that his longtime pal should inherit the locker that his father once used.

At his recent retirement party, attendees included many of the former seasonal employees Michaux once supervised. Cooke wasn’t surprised by this.

“He was an excellent leader,” Cooke said. “All the employees loved him.”

The same could be said for Michaux’s bosses

Retired Shores DPW Director Brett Smith started working for the Shores just days after Michaux. Michaux’s first day of work with the city was April 1, 1987, and Smith’s was April 6, 1987. The two rose through the ranks together. Smith said Michaux was someone who was loyal and could be counted on.

“He was my right-hand guy,” Smith said. “He was always there. He never took time off when it wasn’t necessary. He was very committed.”

If Michaux’s last name sounds familiar to Shores residents, that’s because there are two streets named after his family, Michaux Lane and Michaux Court. He grew up in the Shores in a home his parents owned on Vernier Road, near his grandfather William Michaux’s 4-acre farm, which had horses, chickens, corn and flowers. Michaux remembers planting flowers in his grandfather’s greenhouse and taking them to Eastern Market to sell. The corn they grew was for the horses to eat, he said.

Harold Michaux Sr. continued the family farming business for a time but then sold it circa 1975 or 1976, Michaux said. The area where the farm once stood was redeveloped into a subdivision. Michaux said the city used to ask Harold Sr. about coming to work for the Shores, and after selling the farm, that’s what he did, spending roughly a decade working on the grounds for the DPW.

The close-knit nature of the DPW staff and the community were things Michaux appreciated.

“Working for a small city like this, you know everybody,” Michaux said.

He said residents would honk and wave as they drove by, and cyclists would often stop to talk if they spotted Michaux working in a neighborhood.

“I met a lot of great people here — so many residents,” Michaux said. “I’ll miss them all.”

He brought with him a positive attitude and a can-do spirit.

“There’s never been a day when I didn’t want to come here (to work),” Michaux said. “Leaving here, my last day was tough.”

There’s still one Michaux working for the city — Harold’s wife of 42 years, Lynn, who has worked in the administrative offices since about 2009. Lynn Michaux, who grew up in Grosse Pointe Woods, said they met as students at Grosse Pointe North High School.

With two new grandchildren on the way in July — both of Michaux’s daughters were expecting children within two weeks of each other — he’ll now have more time to be a doting grandpa. One of his daughters already has a 2-year-old daughter of her own, so he’s already got some grandparenting experience under his belt. Michaux said he hopes to do more golfing as well, along with helping his daughters with repairs at their homes.

“My wishes for Harold in retirement (are) stop working so hard, enjoy your kids and grandkids, and take some vacations,” Cooke said.