Life Story / Obituary
Erick Takayama passed from this earthly life on November 4, 2018. The son of Mitsume Takayama and Phyllis Louise (Nelson) Takayama, he was born February 20, 1959, in South Redford, Michigan.
Diabetic from age 4, Erick didn't allow this condition to interfere with his activities or ambitions. Erick was happy and adventurous, with neighbors and grade-school classmates who became treasured life-long friends. From age 3, summer vacations in Lake Leelanau were special; swimming, fishing, climbing the dunes and riding in the dune buggies.
The summer after graduation from Lee M. Thurston High School, Erick began working as a banquet runner at the Hyatt-Regency Hotel in Dearborn's Fairlane Center. His work ethic so impressed management that he was asked if he would be interested in learning to cook.
Erick trained under the Hyatt's best chefs while also attending classes in the Hospitality Program at nearby Henry Ford College. Working his way up the system be became chef garde manger, sous chef and chef.
In his mid-twenties, Erick was selected to open “The Greenery” restaurant in the new Hyatt-Regency hotel on the campus of Princeton University in New Jersey. Later, he transferred to the Hyatt-Regency in Houston, Texas, and then to the Hyatt Regency in El Segundo, California.
Eventually, he found his way back to northern Michigan and became Director of Food and Beverage for the four tower restaurants at the Grand Traverse Resort.
After 20 years in food service, Erick began pursuit of his lifelong interests in horticulture and protecting and nurturing the environment. He began designing and installing organic landscape projects. Using native trees and shrubs, his projects emphasized low maintenance and environmentally safe practices. He founded Grand Traverse Organic Landscapes in 1996. He believed that beautiful, creative landscapes can work in harmony with people's homes, improve their quality of life, and protect the natural resources that make the Grand Traverse Bay region special.
Erick served 8 years on the Acme Township Board of Trustees.
Erick spent his spare time volunteering at the Cherryland Humane Society, gardening and riding his Harley.
Erick is survived by his mother, Phyllis Takayama of Lake Leelanau, his wife, Judy; his step-son Derek (Jamie) Diekman; a nephew, Michael A. Tompkins, of Florida; two uncles: Mitsuru (Mary) Takayama of California and Rex A. (Bonnie) Nelson of DeKalb County, Illinois; and 18 Nelson and Takayama cousins and their families.
He was pre-deceased by his father, Mitsume Takayama, his sister, Kristin Takayama, five uncles and an aunt.
Contributions in Erick's honor may be directed to Cherryland Humane Society or the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.
Please visit www.lifestorytc.com to sign the guestbook and share your thoughts and memories with the family.