Ardyn Ronald Dempsey, Jr., aged 77, of Colbert, Georgia, formally of Battle Creek, Michigan, passed away in his home with his loving family at his bedside on June 22, 2020, after courageously battling complications from chronic kidney disease and pneumonia.
He was born in Battle Creek on September 26, 1942 and was a 1960 graduate of Harper Creek High School. He worked for JuneDale Meat Market before hiring into Kellogg's in 1962 where he earned his Journeyman's Card and worked in the Machine Shop as a tool and die maker for over 30 years. After retirement, he continued to work in his own private shop making car parts, especially for Pontiacs.
Affectionately known in classic car circles as "Mr. Pontiac", Ardyn was widely known as an expert in all things Pontiac and, in addition to entering classic car shows across the U.S. and Canada, was often asked to judge at many of these meets. His Pontiac passion was fueled by several of his own classic car restorations, including his beloved Mayfair Maize 1965 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 and his Verdoro Green 1967 first-generation Firebird. Both brought top honors in POCI and AACA shows and the latter was on display in the Muscle Car Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for several years. He was also very active with the Southwest Michigan Street Rods Association in Battle Creek and with the Street Masters Car Club and the Antique Automobile Club of America's chapter in Athens, Georgia. If you didn't spot Ardyn at a car show, you would often find him at a swap meet, salvage yard or trading stories with a fellow Pontiac enthusiast.
While also an accomplished sailor, woodworker and hunter, Ardyn's greatest joy in life was his family and friends. A fiercely loyal husband, he and his high school sweetheart and wife of over 59 years, Janice, travelled the world from Italy and Ireland to Tahiti and Thailand. A devoted father and "papa", he never missed a wrestling match, national speech tournament or choir concert. A faithful friend, he was always quick to help and could be found lending a hand hanging drywall, assisting in a workshop or building a custom part to restore something old back to new again. Ardyn never met a stranger and was a friend to all. He was loved by many and will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him.
He is survived by his wife, Janice, son Brian (Gena) and grandchildren, Elizabeth, Megan and Erin, and daughter Brenda (Kevin) Alten and grandchildren, Delaney and Kaden. Also surviving are his brother David (Jodelle) Dempsey of Delton, Michigan and sister Donna (Hollis) Thurman of Battle Creek, along with many nieces and nephews. Ardyn was preceeded in death by his father, Ardyn Ronald Dempsey, Sr. and mother Elizabeth Johnston Dempsey Foglesong.
Due to COVID, a memorial service for family and friends to celebrate his life will be held later in the year in both Georgia and Michigan when it is safe to do so.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ardyn's memory to the Winterville Methodist Church, P.O. Box 30, Winterville, GA 30683.
Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, EAST, 4355 Lexington Road, Athens, GA is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be offered at www.lordandstephens.com.
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