Melissa Gilbert, Timothy Busfield leaving city for log cabin in the woods

Nothing in the city of Howell has generated more excitement in recent years than Melissa Gilbert and her new husband, Timothy Busfield, moving in.

For the nearly two years that they’ve lived a couple blocks from my own downtown Howell home, the two have been wonderful neighbors and community boosters.

They were so patient as the “Oh. My. Gawd. MOVIE STARS!” excitement faded (a bit). They didn’t complain about the constant traffic up and down their street as people looked to see where they lived. They truly lived in the city, walking, shopping, dining at restaurants, going to the movies, attending various performances, and getting to know the charming little town that suffered for so many years under the weight of a dead, former KKK grand wizard who didn’t even live here.

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For fans of the show, the cast of “Thirtysomething” felt like friends. Timothy Busfield is second from the right.

Now, Howell is known as the place that Melissa Gilbert and Timothy Busfield chose to call home, and that has made us very, very happy. While Busfield, an East Lansing native well known for his work on “Thirtysomething” and “The West Wing,” was already living in Michigan, Gilbert moved here from California after they married in 2013.

The two could’ve picked anywhere in the mid- to southeast Michigan region to live.

Anywhere.

They chose Howell.

And after moving here, they’ve thrown themselves into the town. Gilbert in particular has been an amazing ambassador as she got to know her new community.

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Melissa Gilbert in “Little House on the Prairie.”

We’ve gotten to know her, too. Gilbert, best known for “Little House on the Prairie,” is pretty darn funny, as anyone who knows her or follows her tweets and blog posts can attest. And every single person who has ever run into her while she’s been out and about has been impressed with how approachable, charming and friendly she is. The same goes for Busfield.

But Gilbert has been a one-woman Howell booster, saying nice things about the town wherever she went, and bringing so much positive attention its way.

k2-_09b222e1-94ca-4adf-bd43-e1c826bd7a3b.v1In return, Howell has loved, loved, loved Gilbert right back, so much so that she and Busfield served as grand marshals of the 2014 Fantasy of Lights Parade, a high honor indeed. Diamond’s Steak and Seafood in downtown Howell serves her biscuits and gravy during its Sunday brunch. She’s signed her cookbook at Carriage House Designs on Michigan Avenue. She’s guested on the Mike & Jon in the Morning show on WHMI 93.5. And on and on.

It’s been widely reported that the actors were also interested in the historic Howell Opera House as a potential home for the professional theater company they hope to start. We’re crossing our fingers that doesn’t change now that they’re leaving Howell.

But we’re glad to know that while our movie stars are moving outside the city to their own “Little House in the Big Woods,” they’ll still be “nearby,” according to Gilbert’s tweets.They have hired commercial movers already for the big move.

We want them to know how much we’ve loved having them live here amongst us. It’s been fun watching from the sidelines how happy her new life with her new husband in this quirky Michigan town has made Melissa Gilbert, and we wish the two continued health and happiness in their new home.

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Journalist Maria Stuart lives in Howell. She worked at The Livingston County Press/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus as reporter, editor and managing editor from 1990-2009. She is often spotted holding court at Uptown Coffeehouse.

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