Whether it was coaching skiing or leading families in prayer, Deacon Archie Noon had a knack for helping people.
The ski instructor-turned-deacon, fittingly assigned to St. Mary Our Lady of the Snows Parish in Milford, died on Sept. 11. He was 100.
His long life was filled with many tales of devotion and service to others. Well-loved in the Milford community, it is said more than 2,500 newborns and children were baptized by Deacon Noon in his 46 years as a permanent deacon.
“Being a deacon meant everything to him,” said Susan Miller, one of Deacon Noon’s six children. “It was his calling to be married and have a family and to serve the Lord and the community. There was something about being a servant that appealed to him.”
Archie Noon was born July 8, 1918, in Detroit to Edward and Bridget Noon. He married Margaret Henfrey at St. Dominic Parish in Detroit in 1941 before serving in the Army in World War II.
Returning home from the service, the Noon family had six children and moved to Milford in 1957.
He was already well-established with his insurance business dealings in town, along with being a ski instructor and raising a family, when he started taking classes at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit to study to become a deacon, Miller said.
“I was probably in my mid-to-late 20s, in 1969, when he started taking classes at the seminary,” Miller said. “He had his business, worked all around town, came home, and then he went down to Detroit for school for four years.”
Deacon Noon was a trend-setter in the Archdiocese of Detroit, in the second class of permanent deacons in 1972, after the ministry was re-established following the Second Vatican Council. He was assigned to serve St. Mary Our Lady of the Snows and later added Divine Mercy Mission in Davisburg to his ministry.
“It just seemed seamless to me, him being a deacon,” Miller said. “He was always at the church, always an altar boy, no matter what church we were at. He just said it was an honor to be chosen to be a deacon. He was the director of hospital chaplains for the archdiocese in 1974, when Cardinal (John F.) Dearden asked him. Cardinal Dearden said he was chosen from many candidates because of his business background, and he held that job for 18 years.”
For the priests with whom Deacon Noon served, he was a great assistant and companion in carrying out the day-to-day ministry of the parish.
“He always meant to please, and he’d do anything you’d ask,” said Fr. Bill Sinatra, who served with Deacon Noon at St. Mary Our Lady of the Snows from 1979-89. “He was a good servant who was generous with his time and was very supportive of me.”
Fr. Sinatra recalled a particular instance when the parish was installing a bell tower in front of the church, and he had to leave while the project was happening.
“We had this great big project with designing a bell tower for these bells we purchased, and he bought right into it,” Fr. Sinatra said. “I had a two-week vacation planned, and he took care of everything and project went smoothly. He was a good friend, and I enjoyed having him around. He had a good sense of humor. I’m going to miss him.”
Outside of ministry, Deacon Noon was a professional ski instructor for many decades, teaching and skiing at Alpine Valley and Mt. Brighton. In 2002, Deacon Noon accompanied Msgr. Bob Humitz, then-pastor of St. Daniel Parish in Clarkston, to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, where he served as a chaplain, ministering to athletes from around the world.
After his skiing days were over, Deacon Noon took to running, competing in more than 12 marathons. He maintained an active lifestyle late in life, rising early in the mornings to go to the local YMCA.
Deacon Noon also never really stepped away from his diaconate duties. He assisted current St. Mary pastor, Msgr. John Budde, with services at Divine Mercy Mission in Davisburg and was always enthusiastic about leading Liturgy of the Word services for children.
“He just had this grandfatherly sense with the children, he had this very acute way he preached which helped them understand,” Msgr. Budde said. “I knew Archie mostly from his work helping me out at Divine Mercy, where he’d preach occasionally, helping out on Sunday. He was a pillar for the Milford community and a great example for service.”
Deacon Noon’s funeral was Sept. 17 at St. Mary Our Lady of the Snows. He will be buried at St. Mary Cemetery in Milford, next to his wife.
Deacon Noon is survived by his six children, 15 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren; his sister, Mary Connors; and his nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife; and sister, Eleaner Noon-Shefski.
“He would want people to know that he loved the Lord and his faith was deep,” Miller said. “God was first, and then his family and whatever needed to be done, he’d do it. He’d want people to know he was God’s servant. That he loved his life and he accepted whatever was God’s plan for him.”