On Thursday October 17, 2013 Diane Jones passed away. She is survived by her husband Mel, daughter Sherry, sons Michael and Steven, father Larry Beecher, sisters Cheryl Nelson (Rob), Pam Beecher , and KC Kidder (Jeff), brothers Geoff Beecher (Cathy) and David Beecher (Laurie) and five grandchildren, Jessi, Melinda, Jake, Luke and Caden (George). She also leaves numerous nieces and nephews (great) across the country that adored her great sense of humor and energy.
Along with Mel, Cheryl and Rob, Diane owned Northville Cider Mill since August of 1991. The two couples formed the nucleus of a true family business. As well as being a great partner, Diane leaves a legacy of mentoring hundreds of kids beginning their first job. Many started at the age of 14 and stayed with us until college.
Many have returned each year to visit and bring us up to date on their careers, families and accomplishments.
I did not know Diane (nee Beecher) Jones personally, but it would appear that I am the exception.
Diane, who with husband Mel and sibling Cheryl and her husband Rob Nelson, co-owned and operated that venerable icon of a Northville institution that is Parmenter’s Northville Cider Mill, was well known, respected and loved by many – the kind of personable proprietor customers routinely ask for by name. They still ask for Diane by name, though instead of amiable banter with an old friend, are instead informed of the tear-inducing news of her passing on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013.
What I do know of Diane Jones I know anecdotally. With my wife and three children having at various times counted themselves among the team that renders 1,000 pound crates of apples and 50 pound sacks of flour into arguably the best cider and donuts around, dinner conversations have invariably made mention of her. How often do employees lavish praise on their employer? et this was how they regarded Diane. “She treats you like family,” was the accolade I heard most often. Indeed, as my wife pointed out, what better place for a young person’s first foray into the workaday world than Parmenter’s, where people like Diane made the experience both affirming and memorable?
Diane and Mel had recently sold their one-half interest in the Parementer’s, making it unnecessary for them to show up there any longer. But show up they did, be it for old time’s sake, or the supportive company of kin (at the height of cider season it is not unusual to find other Beecher sisters – five originally – with spouses, children, in-laws, et al, working side by side), or both. Accordingly, one of Diane’s final acts was delivering a large order of cider and donuts to the Detroit Zoo – this just hours before she collapsed on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 12. “You’re not going to take that away from me,” she had vowed playfully before departing, obviating her love of the task.
Diane was all about hard work, honesty, and a caliber of friendliness devoid of prejudice and pretense. They were old fashioned principles that worked for her, and certainly factored into the success of the business that continues to bear her imprint.
Walk into Parmenter’s and bask in the warmth, take in the cacophony of animated, happy conversations, and consider the smiling faces that greet visitors at the counter despite lines that often wrap around the building. These homey elements form an impression of a place, but they also describe Diane’s welcoming, fostering spirit.
I may not have known Diane Jones personally, but I saw the positive affect she had on my family, and will certainly be reminded of her and the love with which she regarded everyone every time I set foot in Parmenter’s.