By Sterling McGinn
Since he was 25 years old, McMillan resident Ed Auge has been a member of the Columbus Township Board. He’s got a total of 45 years of service there, and spent about 40 years with the township’s fire department as well.
Now 74, Auge has decided to retire from the township and has hung up his fire helmet and turnout gear.
Auge came to McMillan with his family in 1954. “I always said we were the new kids on the block,” he said. His mother was originally from Newberry and his father was from Baraga.
Auge attended the Lincoln School in McMillan and graduated from Newberry High School in 1967. “I decided to go to Ferris State College—which it was called at that time—to take x-rays,” he said. “I worked part time at the hospital in maintenance and taking x-rays looked like a pretty easy job.”
He changed his mind, and Auge worked a number of jobs before returning to McMillan to work at the gas station. He decided to attend Bay College where he became a Licensed Practical Nurse and worked at the Helen Newberry Joy Hospital Annex until his retirement.
During his career as an LPN, Auge also served in numerous roles for Columbus Township.
In 1974, he decided to run for township treasurer. “I got my nominating petition, filled it out and asked the clerk when it needed to be in. I turned it in that day—the day he told me it was due, and the clerk said it was three days late,” Auge recalled. “The clerk and treasurer were good buddies, and I thought ain’t that a strange ‘co-inky-dink’.”
He didn’t give up. Auge ran in the August primary and won and held the treasurer’s position for two terms. He then ran and became the clerk. At that time, terms were for two years. He didn’t run for the 1979-80 term because he was taking classes at Bay College. After finishing his schooling, Auge ran for the clerk’s position again, and remained in that seat until 1996.
From 1996 to 2024, Auge served as a trustee.
“I never wanted to be supervisor,” he said. “The bars used to be open until 2:30 in the morning and if somebody came out of the bar drunk, and the streetlight was out, guess who they are going to call? The supervisor.”
Auge was also a founding member of the Columbus Township Fire Department. The department began in the 1970s but didn’t receive its certificate of occupancy in March 1983.
The first fire trucks were a 1945 American LaFrance fire engine and a military tanker truck provided by the DNR.
“I enjoyed being on the fire department,” declared Auge. “Someone has to do it.”
As a trustee, he helped put up and take down the McMillan Christmas lights as well as other projects around the town hall and cemetery, and organized the McMillan cleanup days.
Auge is also passionate about local history and serves as a trustee with the Luce County Historical Society. He volunteers to serve as the museum’s docent on Fridays in the summer.
“I called Ed looking for someone from Columbus to represent that area on the society’s board,” said Rose Sack, longtime museum member. “He said he would do it and from that moment he has been a blessing to the museum. If he saw something that needed to be done—he did it.”
One of Auge’s fellow McMillan residents fondly refers to Auge as the “Mayor of McMillan.”
“Everyone who lives in Columbus Township, or even in the area, knows Ed,” said Laura Generou. “He is a strong advocate for Christmas goodies for township children, he helps keep the cemetery and park looking good and reaches out to anyone in the community he knowns are ill or elderly.”
Auge and his late wife Janet, have three children.