This spring, The Rockford Squire reported that five historic people in the Rockford area were honored at Recognition Plaza at Peppler Park. The event is a newer tradition in its second year and organized by the Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE). Each year, RACE will honor people from the City of Rockford and the townships of Algoma, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield.
In addition to the gift of grants, recognizing the people who have contributed significantly to the history of the area is among the Endowment’s goals. When visiting the beautiful Peppler Park Recognition Plaza (on the west side of the dam), take the time to read the names on the bricks under your feet and in plaques on the columns in the park. The following is one more of the stories of this year’s honorees, with others to follow in future issues of the Squire.
Otto A. Krause
Otto A. Krause was the son of G.A. Krause and a member of a family whose descendents were tanners. The family tanning business was begun in Prussia in the 1700s, although Otto was born in Ann Arbor, Mich. He was educated at the University of Michigan and was an outstanding scholar in the engineering field. Together with his father and brother Victor, they built a shoe factory in Rockford in 1903. He then became chairman of the board of Wolverine Shoe and Tanning Corporation.
Following World War I, Otto initiated a profit-sharing plan at Wolverine whereby stockholders and workers would share in the company profits. This was a first-of-its-kind practice and made him renowned as among the country’s most enlightened industrialists.
During the Depression years of the 1930s, Otto saw to it that the company continued production, even if it meant stockpiling shoes and suffering losses-he wanted workers to have their jobs.
Otto was noted for his caring concern for his employees and for the people of Rockford. He financially-often anonymously-helped with the grocery and educational expenses of some of his employees. He helped support the churches of Rockford, although he did not belong to any of them. He was a well-known philanthropist. Otto also served as president of the Village of Rockford for several years, and was a member of the Rockford Board of Education, where he also served as president for some time.
Otto was a member of many organizations, including the Masonic Lodge, the Shrine, the Peninsular Club, and Blythefield Country Club. He lived at 235 Courtland Street in downtown Rockford in what is now known as the Krause House and is part of Rockford Public Schools.
Otto and his wife Henrietta had two sons, Adolph and Richard. Otto died on Saturday, May 20, 1950.