Jack Clausnitzer, founder of Brighton NC Machine, died June 18 at the age of 84.
A German immigrant who immigrated to the U.S. in 1953, Clausnitzer fell in love with Livingston County when he was the first exchange student at Brighton High School. In addition to being a successful business owner, Clausnitzer was a force for good in the community, generously supporting LACASA and Gleaner’s Food Bank.
Brighton NC Machine leased some of its land for $1 a year to create the Brighton Community Garden. That community garden, along with the other community gardens in Livingston County, raises over 11,000 pounds of food for Gleaners Food Bank distribution.
Clausnitzer’s wife, Heide, helped found LACASA, the organization in Livingston County that works with the victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. She served on its board of directors for many years.
Jack Clausnitzer was first inspired to create the garden after attending a meeting of the Livingston County Hunger Council with Heide. In a story in the Brighton Patch, Clausnitzer said he was “infected by the enthusiasm” at that meeting.
“The idea of having a community garden has been attractive to me for some time,” he said. “I have thought many times we should have something like that here for our employees.”
The garden is on part of 19 acres on Whitmore Lake Road on which Brighton NC Machine is located.
“We are living in an area in the world where we have very good soil,” Clausnitzer said. ”We have water available, and our climate lets us grow very good food. And we have a bunch of hungry people. If the soil is not used, we’re a bunch of idiots.”
Because of that garden, Clausnitzer was named one of the Huffington Post’s “Greatest Person of the Day” in December 2011.
Brighton NC Machine, established in 1965, was one of the first privately held U.S. companies to own a numerically controlled (NC) machine. Today, it has over 70 CNC machine tools and nearly 200 employees.
The company became known as a machining company driven by a machinist. Clausnitzer insisted that machining fundamentals were learned and passed on to all employees. The company partnered with Mott Community College for machining training.
Joachim “Jack” Rudolf Clausnitzer is survived by his wife of 62 years, Heide; his children Susanne Clausnitzer, Helen (Mark) Seger Lally, Tim (Norma) Clausnitzer, and Thomas (Cheryl) Clausnitzer; grandchildren, Katelyn (Lindsay Steele) Cooper, Samantha Cooper, Benjamin (Jordan) Rosenau, Jacob (Alex) Rosenau, Steven (Joanna) Clausnitzer, Andrew (Ashley) Clausnitzer, Callie (Ryan) Sullivan, Kyle, Drew, and Scott Clausnitzer, Jaime (James) Randall, Amanda (Aaron) Ambinder, and Lacey Campbell; 10 great-grandchildren and four on the way; as well as many extended family members and dear friends.
Visitation is set for 4-8 p.m. Friday, June 22, at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 600 E. Main St. in downtown Brighton. The funeral service will be at First Presbyterian Church at 300 E. Grand River Ave. in Brighton, with times pending.
Memorial contributions are suggested to Gleaner’s Food Bank and LACASA.
For more information, call (810) 229-2905.