By Jason Wesseldyk
Otsego mayor Cyndi Trobeck passed away on Monday, March 14, following a “brief and abrupt battle” with a neurodegenerative disease.
Trobeck began suffering from health issues in early December and was recently diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. A rare, degenerative brain disorder that causes dementia and has no cure, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease affects approximately one person in every one million each year.
The City of Otsego confirmed Trobeck’s death in a Facebook post.
“It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Mayor Cyndi Trobeck,” the post said. “She leaves behind a legacy of friendships, community service and love of Otsego.”
Trobeck was elected to the Otsego City Commission in 2010 and made history in 2016 when she became the city’s first female mayor. She was in her second term as mayor at the time of her death.
“Cyndi was proud to be the (first) female mayor in Otsego history,” the city’s post said. “Cyndi left a gigantic imprint on the City of Otsego that will last for years to come.
“We would also like to thank the Trobeck family for sharing her with us for all of these years. The City of Otsego is a better place because of Cyndi Trobeck.”
The City of Plainwell also paid tribute to Trobeck in a social-media post.
“The City of Plainwell sends our heartfelt condolences to the City of Otsego, the Trobeck family and the Cornell family,” the post said. “Cyndi was a light in the community and it will forever shine.”
In addition to serving as Otsego’s mayor, Trobeck also worked as a realtor at Cornell & Associates in Plainwell. That followed a 19-year career as a manager at 5/3 Bank.
The Cornell & Associates Facebook page featured a tribute to Trobeck.
“Our hearts are broken as we face this most recent loss, but so happy that we were able to have had the time with her that we did,” the post said. “She told us that she truly loved being a Realtor, that she had finally found the perfect job for herself and she embraced it with joy every day!
“Kind and energetic, she brought the light into a room; a giver to her community, family (and) friends, she will be missed each (and) every day. It will be very difficult to face the coming days without her. Our sincere condolences to her family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all.”
The giving of Trobeck’s time wasn’t limited to the City of Otsego. Rather, she also volunteered at numerous local institutions: she taught finance classes at Greater-Kalamazoo Real Estate Association; was on the Otsego DDA/Main Street Board; taught Sunday School at Otsego United Methodist Church; and served on the board of the Otsego Rotary Club and Christian Neighbors.
“Cyndi was a very active Rotarian here in Otsego for many years,” the Otsego Rotary Club said in a Facebook post. “She was a true example of what a Rotarian is, as service above self was how she lived her life.
“Cyndi served her community in many ways: as mayor, a member of the Christian Neighbors Board of Directors, active with Main Street Otsego, a devoted friend, loving wife, mother, grandmother and so much more. Cyndi will be missed by us all.”
For Christian Neighbors, Trobeck was the board vice president, handled its real-estate transactions and helped support the Reflection of Hope Dinner Auction and PATH Walk.
“Christian Neighbors lost a faithful board member and friend,” Christian Neighbors said in a Facebook post. “She loved our mission as it matched her life mission of service and caring for others.
“Cyndi was a wonderful wife, mom, daughter, grandmother and friend to so many. Cyndi’s life (and) legacy is one for certain of being a good and faithful servant. She will be missed.”
Trobeck was born in Kalamazoo Oct. 5, 1958, and grew up in Otsego, graduating from Otsego High School in 1977. She received her bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University in 1982 and went later went back to school and earned her master’s of business degree from Davenport University in 2015.
Trobeck married her husband Gary in 1984 and together they raised their three sons—Derek, Anthony and Ethan—in Otsego. Trobeck also had two stepchildren, Tracie and Eric.
In February, Anthony Trobeck described his mother as someone who loved her family deeply and was a “loving and proud grandma, mother, wife, sister and daughter.” Anthony Trobeck also spoke of his mother’s strong love of Jesus.
“I am proud to be her son,” Anthony Trobeck said.
Trobeck’s health issues started with vision impairment. She was originally diagnosed with dry eye and was told that, with eye drops, her vision would gradually return to normal.
But her condition worsened, and she sought further testing at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. When those tests came back normal, Trobeck was sent home.
Soon, however, her cognitive and motor skills also began to deteriorate. Numerous trips to the emergency room followed until Trobeck was admitted to the intensive care unit at Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo on Feb. 6.
Trobeck was later transferred to the Cleveland Clinic, where the diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease was given.
Cyndi is survived by her husband Gary; sons Derek (Amber) Trobeck of Decatur, Ind., Anthony (Emma) Trobeck of Kalamazoo and Ethan (Reva) Trobeck of Otsego; step children Tracie Wills of Lithia Springs, Georgia and Eric Trobeck of Litchfield, Ill.; grandchildren Harper, Annie, Rory, Savannah, Brenden, Emery and Dawson; parents Jim and Sue Cornell; brother Greg (Marcia) Cornell; sister Cathy (Gerry) Boik; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Funeral services took place at the Otsego High School auditorium on Saturday, March 19, with Pastor Joe Shaler officiating.