KENTWOOD, Mich. — A group of online friends are celebrating the life of a unique turkey, who has come to be known as Gary. Always by himself, Gary called the intersection of 52nd and Kalamazoo home for the past two years until he passed away in early 2022.
“It's just something very positive and humorous to go to throughout the day, with everything that's going on in our world,” said Cathy Kutschinski.
For over a year, folks in Kentwood enjoyed the sight of Gary wandering around his favorite intersection. It wasn't until just a few months ago that Kayla Smith saw someone post a photo of Gary in a Grand Rapids-based Facebook community group that she thought to create a dedicated page for the unique gobbler.
“I was like, 'Hey, I know him,'” Smith told FOX 17.
After creating the Gary the Turkey Facebook group, she quickly realized she wasn't his only fan.
“It's been only a couple of months, and there's more than 1,000 people in there.”
The newly bonded online friends would share photos and videos of Gary, keeping an eye on him throughout.
“He frequented a lot of the banks around here... So, I think he was laundering money," Kutschinski joked.
"We haven't been able to clarify that yet.”
He became a bright spot in the days of people like Ruth Hendrick, who would enjoy seeing Gary when she drove her kids to and from school.
"Half the time we would roll down the window and say hi,” she told FOX 17.
Fans of Gary believe people in the area were feeding him, prompting him to stick around indefinitely.
Perhaps Gary got just a bit too comfortable, as he would become a wanted man.
“This rogue turkey has garnered a great deal of attention from residents, due to his frequent sightings and bold actions,” Kentwood police officer Jeffrey Bylsma said in a lighthearted video the department put together after relocating Gary.
“The Kentwood Police Department received several complaints naming Gary as the culprit."
Because Gary's frequent strolls down the middle of the street, he would often cause some traffic delays.
After a few failed attempts to trap and relocate him by the DNR, some Kentwood officers were able to get a hold of him. They moved him to a nearby forest.
READ MORE: Gary the Turkey captured in Kentwood
Unfortunately, Gary easily made his way back towards his favorite intersection, sometimes wandering up to 60th and Kalamazoo.
“Having a fun thing to look for in the mornings when we're dragging ourselves out of the house was like, you know... it was really nice,” Hendrick said.
Sadly, Gary stopped showing up at some point in March, prompting Kayla Smith to go out looking for him.
She saw a Facebook post about someone finding a dead turkey on a nearby roadway, and she immediately knew — it was likely Gary.
She took the special bird back to her home and laid him to rest in her backyard, marking his grave with one of his long feathers stuck in the earth.
“I’ve been waiting for the weather to be nicer so that I can get some ... something to memorialize him ... a plaque.”
He was a lonesome turkey, always doing his own thing, unknowingly making memories for those who grew to see him as a daily reminder to enjoy the little things in life while we can.
“Even though Gary's not here, I just don't feel like ending that chapter. So I don't really know what's yet to come," Smith said.
In addition to adding a memorial plaque for Gary over his resting place, the group has also considered adopting a highway in their favorite turkey's honor.
They plan to keep Gary's Facebook page up for now, citing all the new friendships born over the common interest of a funny little turkey.