Faces in the Crowd: Daryl Bode

February 8, 2019

By Aaron Michell

Daryl Bode would like to see people shop local.
As the meat lead and a member of Valu Land’s meat department for the last ten years, Daryl would love to see more customers. But it’s his sense of community that really contributes to getting the message out.
Daryl, the son of Don and Sandy Bode, graduated from McBain Northern Michigan Christian in 1987.
Growing up as the oldest of five boys on a small dairy farm on Turnerville Road, Daryl spent his first summer after graduation living on Long Island, New York.
And he came right back.
Because this is home. And he’d had enough of that city life.
With daughters, Nicole and Ashly, along with his stepson, Chris, Daryl has called the Marion area home for most of his life.
His passion for the community is evident, where he serves as President of the Marion Fair Board, as well as Vice President of Caddy Pride.
We spoke with Daryl recently, where we learned about his family, Valu Land, the Marion Fair, and Caddy Pride. We learned about the importance of shopping locally and being who you are. We learned that Daryl Bode is more than just another face in the crowd.

Daryl Bode

Daryl Bode

Marion Press: Are you from the Marion area originally?
Daryl: Yeah, I grew up about five miles from here on a dairy farm. I grew up on a dead-end road between McBain and Marion: Turnerville Road.

MP: So what was life like on the farm? Did you grow up milking cows?
Daryl: Yep, I did. We’d put up hay all summer long; we did the square bales, put them in the hay barn. I did a lot of the milking. My brothers – I had four brothers – they did more of the tractor-driving; I was more of the stay at home and milk the cows guy. I was the oldest of the five boys. It wasn’t a big farm; we milked around 70 cows on average. We had a dairy parlor. When I was younger, I can remember milking in the stanchion barns.

MP: So did you go to school in Marion then?
Daryl: I went to school at NMC. I graduated in ’87.

MP: What kept you busy at NMC?
Daryl: I managed the boys basketball team all four years that I was there – I’m a little vertically challenged, so I didn’t play – but I stayed involved by being the manager. Our senior year we won the Class D State Championship.

MP: Are you still a basketball fan?
Daryl: Not so much; more of a football fan, anymore.

MP: After you graduated, did you stay active with farming?
Daryl: No, once I moved out of the house, I was pretty much done with farming. I started working for a company called Jaydon Incorporated. They were based out of Rock Island, Illinois. We delivered non-food goods to the local IGA stores back then. I ran a local route delivery that stretched from the Big Rapids area to up in the U.P. I did that for approximately four years, before they closed that down up here. After that, I worked 15 years building roof trusses up to Delta Truss in Cadillac.

MP: And where most people probably recognize you is from Valu Land. How did that all come about?
Daryl: They closed up Delta Truss; they were bought out by a company from Wisconsin. I kind of stumbled in to Valu Land and put in an application. They were looking for a meat cutter, you know, and I’d never cut meat before other than processing deer. And I thought, well, I guess it’s close enough to home so I guess I’ll give it a shot. And here I am now as the meat lead over there.

Jason Teare and Daryl Bode working as celebrity servers at Culvers.

Jason Teare and Daryl Bode working as celebrity servers at Culvers.

MP: You’re the meat lead over there. How long have you been doing that? And what all goes into doing that job?
Daryl: I’ve been there 10 years, 11 years in April. We cut the meat; we wrap the meat. You’ve got your lunch meat to deal with. It’s not just as simple as taking the meat out of a box and putting it on the shelf. All of our meat comes in boxes, but it’s in whole primals. So we cut that up; we tray it; we wrap it; we price it. Everything comes out of the Spartan warehouse in Grand Rapids. Spartan owns Valu Land so everything we get comes from the Spartan stores: all of the beef, pork, and chicken is born, raised, and processed in the United States.

MP: What would you say is your favorite part of the job? I’m sure you see a lot of familiar faces working there.
Daryl: My favorite part of the job? My days off, of course! No, it’s the people. The customers. You have your daily people who are there almost every day.

MP: And you’re Board President for the Marion Fair. How did that come about?
Daryl: I’ve been on the fair board for probably about eight years. My daughter showed animals down there quite a bit. All my kids, [Ashly, Nicole, and Chris] showed animals at the fair at some point in time. We started out small with chickens, and rabbits, and turkeys, and such. And as they got more into it, they graduated into pigs and goats. And we’ve done sheep, and we’ve done steers, and we’ve done the horses. I think they’ve shown just about everything that you could show at the fair.

MP: Since you’ve become board president, what are some of the goals moving forward with the fair?
Daryl: Well, I don’t know if we have any goals, we just want to put on a good fair for the community. Make a little money doing it; we’re not looking to get rich doing this. It’s all about the community. The fair board is an all-volunteer organization. It’s a good group of people who just try to put on a good fair for the community every year. You’re probably not going to see anything real spectacular over the next few years, but it’s a big deal for Marion. It brings a lot of business into town. This is our 79th or 80th year, so it’s something that you want to continue.

MP: What are going to be some of the big draws for the fair in 2019?
Daryl: Some of the big draws for 2019? Obviously, the USA Figure 8 Demolition Derby – that’s always a big draw, and that will be back. Last year we started truck and tractor pulls, where they can pull pick-ups and the bigger farm stock tractors – that will be coming back; that was a fairly good draw for the first year, and we’re looking for a little better draw this year. This year, the board voted to bring in UWE Wrestling. It’s in the works, but there’s stipulations. So tentatively we’ll have wrestling.

MP: Tell us about your family? Did your kids all go to school at Marion?
Daryl: Yep, Chris and Nicole both graduated from Marion. Ashly will be graduating from Marion this year. I’m not sure quite what to think of it all yet, I’m going to be home alone soon!

MP: What is it about this community that keeps you here?
Daryl: Well, I went to school – not in Marion, per se, but McBain – and I’ve lived here all my life. I know so many people in this area. We might get some bad winters once in a while, some bad storms, but we don’t have to deal with hurricanes; we don’t deal with too many tornadoes; we don’t deal with poisonous snakes – which is my phobia, right there! But mainly it’s the community. I grew up here; it’s what I know. I lived on Long Island for one summer in 1987, the year I graduated. Somewhere nice to visit, but never would live there. Too busy there, oh my gosh. It was just crazy.

MP: When you’re not working at Valu Land, or working for the fair board, what else keeps you busy?
Daryl: Well, I’m also the vice president for a non-profit group called Caddy Pride. That’s based out of Marion too. We try to raise awareness that it’s okay to be who you want to be: gay, lesbian, part of the LGBQT community. We also try to focus on bullying in schools. We’re not in the schools, but we support anti-bullying organizations that are. It’s not right to be bullied because of your sexual preference. That’s not okay. But our biggest mission in general is don’t be afraid. Be who you want to be.

Daryl Bode and Jason Teare

Daryl Bode and Jason Teare

MP: Do you have events then? Or fundraisers to support some of these organizations?
Daryl: We put on a Pride event in Cadillac at the city park every August. It’s just a one-day event. We have vendors down at the city park; we have performers that perform on the stage. It’s just a one-day, family-friendly event. This year it will be August 24th. We do fundraisers; we’ve done celebrity server at Culver’s. We put on a lot of bake sales down at Valu Land. We’ve done clothing drives; we’ve donated clothing to the school here in Marion.

MP: Any other interests or hobbies that keep you busy?
Daryl: I deer hunt.

MP: How’d this past season treat you?
Daryl: I spent a lot of time in the blind, we’ll just say that. I didn’t shoot anything. I saw one buck the entire season, and that was walking to my truck opening night. I saw deer almost every night, but I don’t, per se, hunt for the meat. I’m more of a trophy buck hunter.

MP: Who have been your biggest role models in life?
Daryl: Obviously, my mother, Sandy. My mother’s always been there to support me in whatever I do. Even if she didn’t think it was a great idea, she would support you. I guess I’ve always been kind of a momma’s boy.

MP: Any words of wisdom that have helped you get to this point in life?
Daryl: Take one day at a time. Every day is a gift from God. What happens that day doesn’t have to entail your whole life. If you have a bad day, it’s just a bad day. Get over it, go on. Don’t get caught up, leave work at work; leave home at home.

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