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Posted on Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Former Moe Sports Shop owner Bud VanDeWege dies at age 83

By Pete Cunningham

Ann Arbor lost an icon on Monday as Edwin Jay “Bud” VanDeWege died at the age of 83.

The longtime owner of Moe Sports Shop in downtown Ann Arbor, VanDeWege lost a long battle with congestive heart failure on Monday surrounded by family and friends.

VanDeWege will be cremated, but there was no visitation or memorial service planned as of Monday evening. Muehlig Funeral Chapel in Ann Arbor has an online dedication page in his honor.


Moe Sports Shop photo file

With VanDeWege’s condition progressively worsening over the last two weeks, he was confined to his hospital bed, according to longtime friend and former University of Michigan basketball player George Pomey. Pomey said it was actually a perfect way to spend his final days, with visits from loved ones, many former athletes of Michigan-lore and longtime friends and acquaintances who came to pay their respects.

“He looked at me one day and said ‘this is kinda neat, it’s like going to your own funeral,’” Pomey said. “It’s sad that he’s gone, but that wasn’t a sad situation. It was a great thing the way it finally ended.”

Pomey said VanDeWege would light up with his many visitors, be it his family from the west coast or Michigan football greats like Rick Leach and Bill Dufek.

“He’d get a spurt of adrenaline every time someone would come in,” Pomey said.

Moe Sports Shop, located at 711 North University Avenue, has been a fixture on the University of Michigan campus since opening in 1915. VanDeWege began working there in 1964 and bought the shop in 1971, making a career out of his retirement plan.

“He told me one time many years ago that when he retired he always wanted to own a sporting goods shop in a college town,” longtime friend Clem Gill said. “The joke was he wanted it to be his retirement, and it ended up being his career.”

There was never a question where to find VanDeWege. He ate breakfast every morning at the same seat in Frank’s Restaurant on Maynard Street before work and read his newspaper with the regulars.

A running gag among the regulars at Frank’s was to have a patron new to the restaurant sit in Bud’s seat before he got there.

“Everytime he’d see someone there, he’d react with something different," said longtime friend Ed Shaffran.

Though Shaffran said VanDeWege was never rude about asking the newbie move from the spot, it went without saying that it was VanDeWege’s spot.

Even after his son, former Michigan women’s basketball coach Bud VanDeWege Jr., sold Moe’s to Underground Printing in 2010, Bud Sr. would stop by the shop daily.

VanDeWege loved sports. He played on the Holland High School 1946 state championship basketball team and later for Hope College. Moe’s kept him connected him to athletes and games he loved so much. He was a fixture at Michigan basketball and football games and for many years provided many athletics teams with apparel.

“He was always there, and with the tailgates, too,” said Pomey. “It’ll seem pretty hollow getting together to those things without him.”

VanDeWege also loved to watch his grandchildren play sports.

Pomey said the many athletes that frequented the shop would often confide in VanDeWege as a fatherly figure, but he didn’t discriminate with his kindness. In the back of Moe’s hung a corkboard with Polaroid photos of him with All-Americans as well as regular students who just stopped in the shop with their parents on a visit.

“He was just a friendly guy,” Pomey said. “I told Bud (Jr.) ‘I never heard anything for a cross word said about your dad in all the years I knew him, and that’s a rare thing, especially when you’re a business owner.’”

Contact Pete Cunningham at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


Steven Guttman

Wed, Jul 4, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

Our condolences from our family to the VanDeWedge"s. Bud was a great business man and a fixture in the community. He will be missed. Steve Guttman , the Guttman Families & Joan French

Andrea Madden

Wed, Jul 4, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

Bud was always a gracious & fun man. I grew up around him. If I wanted to find my dad, Pete Van Boven, at 10 AM or for lunch, all I had to do was go to the 5 & dime (coffee break) or their lunch hang outs & Bud was there. I received many a sage word came from Bud, but a lot more joking and teasing. He is missed! My prayers are with his family! Andy V.B.


Wed, Jul 4, 2012 : 3:06 a.m.

A passing of an Ann Arbor Icon. I remember going to Moes as a kid with my friend on Saturdays back in the 60's. 99% of the time we never had two nickles between us, but boy, it was sure neat checking out the latest in sporting goods.

Michigan Man

Wed, Jul 4, 2012 : 3:04 a.m.

Liked the store on Packard and State. Back in the very early 1960's, perhaps late 1950's would walk up to Moe's to buy new, high quality wiffle balls for backyard wiffle ball.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

My most sincere condolences to the VanDeWege family. I actually briefly worked for Bud stocking shelves at Moe's as an after-school job and I remember him as a good boss and a nice man.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

Back in the 70's, my mom would always take us down to Moes to buy swim suits. I remember the photos of some of the UofM players Bud would hang on the wall. It was the highlight of the trip He was such a nice man and he always knew your name. RIP Bud.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

Bud was a class act who loved and lived life to its fullest. He was a great family man and a go to guy for so many people I have to echo what Doug Horning said: " I will always consider it an honor and privilidge to have been a friend of Bud's. "


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

Apart of Ann Arbor history died. He will be missed.R.I.P..


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

Bud was an amazing person. I remember Bud and Hanky gave me a Notre Dame shirt when I was in grade school to wear around when I was mad at my parents. What a great sense of humor. Plus, he truly cared about his friends and family. Bud will be missed!

Matt Cooper

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

Bud was a kind and generous man who will be missed by many. RIP Bud.

doug horning

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

I will always consider it an honor and privilidge to have been a friend of Bud's. Doug Horning

Geoff Larcom

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

Thanks for doing this story. Bud was always a go-to source when we at the old AA News wanted to get a longtime view of U-M sports, and his enthusiasm was such fun. A terrific family man, and a business that so many of us A2 Geezers remember from our youth.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

Geoff, your work is deeply missed.

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

Who you calling a geezer sonny?! don't make me hit ya with my cane! just kidding....


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 10:57 a.m.

Sounds like a nice man that lived a full life. Maynard Streed? asking the newbie move? All-Americas?

Julie Baker

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

Thanks, those errors have been corrected.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

A2comments is mentioning spelling and grammatical errors found in the article. A2comments didn't point out that Bud's last name is spelled wrong in several instances as well.

Madeleine Borthwick

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.