Edna Haner was born in Rockford on December 26, 1875 and lived in the area all of her life. She was an only child. Her father, Charles, a Civil War veteran, was a partner in a wagon and carriage shop in Rockford.
In 1897 Mr. Haner and his then partner, William Haskell, had their building destroyed by fire so they relocated by Rum Creek on the east side of Monroe Street. Later, in 1912, Mr. Haner sold his part of the business to Henry Burch, the son-in-law of Mr. Haskell. When Haskell retied, the business was run by sons of Henry Burch and became Burch Body Works.
Edna graduated from Rockford High School in 1881 and from Ypsilanti State Teachers College in 1895.
After college graduation, she taught for two years a Gouge berg (near Rockford) and one year in Cadillac before returning to teach history and language at Rockford High School. She became the high school principal (still teaching) around 1900 and continued until the spring of 1926 when ill health caused her to retire.
In the 1924-25 school year, Rockford High School had their first major yearbook (Trailblazer) printed and published and it was dedicated to Edna Haner. (Note: Rockford High School had a yearbook in 1919 but it was all hand done with the pages being typed and not printed).
The yearbook of 1924-25 has much of Edna Haner’s graduation and alumni information in it and is a major source of school history.
In 1912 Edna Haner became Rockford’s first town librarian and served in that position until 1949 when health issues again forced her to retire.
Edna Haner was a member of the Rockford Congregational Church, a charter member of the Tuesday Club, a member of the Library Board and one of the organizers of the County Library Association.
Rockford historian Homer Burch wrote the following about Edna Haner: “She had a stern countenance that actually masked a gentle soul. She could be a strict disciplinarian but was also a warm, understanding, helpful and inspiring teacher, highly regarded and respected by students and faculty. No one today (1969) can count the many hundreds of Rockford’s former scholars and citizens who have benefited from the influence, inspiration and heritage of Edna Haner’s lifetime. Their numbers must be legion and I am one of them.” (Rockford Register-February 6, 1969.)
Edna Haner died on April 13, 1950.
Submitted by Rockford Area Historical Society president — Terry Konkle