Long-time Farmington Hills business booster John Walsh Anhut died peacefully on April 21, two weeks after his 98th birthday.
City council member and former mayor Ken Massey said Anhut remained active well into his 90s. He said Anhut insisted on reappointment to the Farmington Hills Economic Development Corporation (EDC) in 2019–for a six-year term.
‘John Anhut Way’
“He lived an amazing, full life,” Massey said. “He was truly one of those people who believed in getting involved.”
Anhut received a 2019 proclamation recognizing his contributions, and the city will honor Anhut’s legacy at The Hawk community center, Massey said. A plaque will identify a third-floor bridge to a planned business incubator as “John Anhut Way”.
“The city council has agreed to it, and we were able to tell him that was happening before he passed,” Massey said. “He was very happy about it.”
Leader and cheerleader
Farmington Hills Mayor Vicki Barnett called Anhut “a one-man Chamber of Commerce”. He made sure the city recruited new businesses and paid attention to those already invested, she said.
“He was always forward-thinking,” she added. “He was willing to tell you what he thought and willing to listen… a great leader and a great cheerleader. I will miss him.”
Massey believes Anhut’s passion for Farmington Hills stemmed from his nearly 50 years as innkeeper of the Botsford Inn. The original structure, built as a family home around 1836, still stands on Grand River, just west of the Beaumont Cancer & Breast Care Center.
“He had a love of this community in part because it had treated him so well when he ran the Inn,” Massey said.
Passionate Notre Dame fan
Anhut joined the family hotel business after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. During his time in the Navy, he received eight combat stars.
A passionate University of Notre Dame alumni, Anhut presided over the Notre Dame Club of Detroit in 1954. The club named him Man of the Year in 1964. He cheered on the Irish in the stands as often as possible.
Among his leadership roles, Anhut served with the Detroit and Michigan Hotel Associations, the Farmington Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Botsford General Hospital, Michigan National Bank, and First Farmington Savings and Loan.
Memorial service planned
The Anhut family has held a private graveside service with military honors. A memorial Mass will take place on Friday, October 8, 10 a.m., at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, 23615 Power Rd., Farmington.
Survivors include Anhut’s five children, Karen (Jim) Girardy, Kris (Jim) Moravek, John N. II (David Phillips), Jim (Patti), and Jerry; his brother, Bill (Mary Claire); and eight grandchildren, John Girardy, Mark Girardy, Jim (Molly) Moravek Jr., John (Angie) Moravek, Kathryn (Patrick) Weiland, Katelyn (Michael) Riebesehl, Jennifer (Joseph) deGroot, and Patrick Anhut. Survivors also include six great-grandchildren, Mark Girardy, Jack and Henry Moravek, Caroline Moravek, Grace Weiland, Thomas Riebesehl, and one on the way.
His parents, John and Elizabeth; his four sisters, Betty, Jackie, Justine, and Louise; his brother, Bob; and his great-granddaughter, Makayla Weiland, preceded him in death.
Send memorial donations to C.A.R.E.S. of Farmington Hills, 27835 Shiawassee, Farmington Hills, MI, 48336, or online caresfh.org/donate/; Angela Hospice 14100 Newburgh Rd Livonia, MI, 48154, or online, angelahospice.org; or to the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy, 8400 S. Cambridge Ave., Detroit, MI, 48221 or online, uofdjesuit.org.
Read the full obituary here: heeney-sundquist.com/obituary/john-anhut
Correction: C.A.R.E.S. of Farmington Hills was inadvertently omitted from the list of memorial donation suggestions.