“Dayton” as he was known to his family and friends was born May 15, 1930, in Floyd County, Virginia. He graduated from Blacksburg High School in 1947 and attended Virginia Tech, from which he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture. He served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and received a Bronze Star during his duty in Korea (1951-1953).
He married the late (Hazel) Allene Slusher on April 4, 1952. In 1956, he was awarded a Master of Science degree in Horticulture from Rutgers University in New Jersey. He moved to Michigan and worked as a salesman for Ortho Chemicals and taught school until he purchased what was to become Corey Lake Orchards in 1960.
Dayton had a passion for farming, was innovative, and loved working the land. He remained active on the farm, helping to pot tomatoes in his beloved greenhouse just a few days before his death. He expanded the original apple farm with a variety of fruits and vegetables including asparagus and grapes, opened a fruit market; cider mill, and brandy distillery; was a leader in the development of U-pick operations, spoke at numerous horticulture conferences; created an “asparagus picker”, worked with Virginia Tech and Stark Brother’s Nurseries to test fruit varieties in a northern climate, and started one of the area’s first hydroponic tomato greenhouses. He enjoyed woodworking, mechanics, sports, music, and cherished his family and friends. He has planted seeds that will remain forever deeply rooted in the legacy of Corey Lake Orchards and the hearts of many.
He is survived by his four daughters: Brenda Hubbard (John Sample) of Tallahassee, Florida; Elizabeth Hubbard (Joe Kitzinger) of Three Rivers; Charlotte Hubbard (Marshall Beachler) of Schoolcraft; Dr. Linda Hubbard (Jim Sonday) of Portage. He was blessed with 8 grandchildren: Jessica Sonday, of Portland, Oregon, Benjamin Sonday of New York City, ReBecca Sonday of Schoolcraft, Jay Kitzinger (Michaela) of Three Rivers, Chad Kitzinger of Ann Arbor, Amber Sample of Tallahassee, Florida, and Samantha and Sydney Sonday of Portage. Remaining family includes sister Claudine Fox of Christiansburg, Virginia and sister-in-law Marie Hubbard of Three Rivers, local nieces Carolyn Mansmith and Nancy Springer, local nephew David Hubbard, special cousin Bill Newcomb of Blacksburg, Virginia as well as numerous cherished relatives, friends, employees and loyal customers.
The family will receive friends on Thursday, March 13, from 4 – 6 pm at the Hohner Funeral Home, 1004 Arnold Street, Three Rivers, Michigan. A celebration of his life will be held on March 14, at 11 a.m., with a luncheon to follow at the Corey Church of Nazarene, 10056 Water Street, Three Rivers, Michigan, with Bruce L. Ruesink officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may made be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or a charity of your choice. On-line condolences can be left at: www.hohnerfh.com.