Manistee Mourns Passing of Community Entrepreneur, Philanthropist Bill Paine

The Manistee area is mourning the loss of a man who spent decades investing his time and resources into making Manistee a better place.

Bill Paine passed away over the weekend at the age of 89. He was known for his active involvement in compassion, entrepreneurship and philanthropy around northern Michigan.

“He was a nice, quiet, unreasoning gentleman; but he had a mind like a steel trap,” says friend and Executive Director of Manistee United Way Corey Van Fleet.

A dedicated philanthropist, a strong business man and lover of Manistee, Paine’s compassion can be felt throughout this community.

Laura Heintzelman, president & CEO of Manistee County Community Foundation, “I will remember Bill for many things, but one of the things that stands out most is not only how much he loved this community, but his optimism about our future.”

Never afraid to take a risk, Paine invested in the community by bringing hundreds of jobs to the area through his business Fab-Lite Inc. and support for fine arts and education.

Van Fleet says, “He was active here at United Way because he was always concerned about the underdog and the undeserved.”

Even in his late 70s Paine never stopped wanting to make Manistee a better place.

“He walked in, big tall guy, shut the door, he says I’m Bill Paine, my wife and I want to develop an aquatic complex,” says Van Fleet.

“He wasn’t afraid to take a risk, I mean he was certainly well understood, says Heintzelman. “But it was worth it to him, make an investment in order to change lives for the better.”

Paine was an instrumental leader in establishing the Manistee commitment scholarship for first generation college students.

Heintzelman says, “Bill Paine new the importance of investing in the capacity, whether it was a community, an organization or an individual.”

A man of leadership and vision, Paine’s legacy will carry forward for future generations.

“It’s at end of a time, says Van Fleet. “It won’t stop but it will be different.”