by MATT MARN
Gordon Pickerd wears many hats in his community, from Algoma Township trustee to Rockford Sportsman’s Club treasurer to woodcarver. No matter the method, he is always ready to help.
For example, when Algoma Township grew from needing five trustees to needing seven, a friend suggested Pickerd run, and he answered the call to serve.
“I never thought I’d run for political office,” Pickerd said. “I hope when people look at what we’ve done, they see we’re doing the job the township wants.”
Pickerd said final decisions before the board lie with the trustees. “Someone has to accept responsibility,” he said. “If people don’t like our decisions, they come after us. Hard choices need to be made, not because I like it or because I agree; following the law is not always an easy course.”
Algoma Township Supervisor Dennis Hoemke said Pickerd is an excellent addition to the township board. “He’s done a great job,” Hoemke said. “He brings a good knowledge base to us because of his past experience. He’s not afraid to do what he needs to do after he looks into the issue.”
Pickerd, also the treasurer of the Rockford Sportsman’s Club for the last 15 years, said the treasurer must keep the books in order and, since the club is a charitable organization, log where all the donations go.
“I was at a board of directors’ budget meeting, and the treasurer at the time wasn’t prepared for all of my questions. After the meeting, a friend asked me when I was going to run for the treasurer position, and I told him next year. The person with the money has to be responsible for the club to run.”
A pattern model maker by trade, Pickerd’s career path later took other directions into sales. But when Pickerd retired six years ago, he was reunited with his first love: woodcarving.
“I’ve done a number of turnings,” Pickerd said. “I sold some, but I gave most to charities over the last five years.”
Pickerd said he has done woodcarving pieces to aid in fundraising efforts for the hunt for a cure for cystic fibrosis, as well as the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding in Rockford. He also does volunteer work for organizations such as the Equest Center.
Angela Taylor, office manager for the Equest Center, said while Pickerd is not as interested in riding horses—at least she’s never seen him ride—he is very interested in helping people.
“He came to us, he saw a need, and he took care of it. Without him, we’d be faced with issues we’d have to find solutions to. We just need to call him and he’s there,” Taylor explained.
Shelly Fox is the assistant equine coordinator at the Equest Center. Fox thinks “Gordy” is an amazing man. “He takes care of work here, and brings his own tractor, and uses farm equipment for our heavy lifting,” Fox said. “He and his wife donate to our organization, too. He donated to a new tractor—not the one he drives, he just knows we need it.”
He has also recently carved a piece for the meeting hall in the Algoma Township offices, bearing the township’s new emblem. The emblem is made of five different types of wood. Pickerd said as a trustee, he thought it would add to the appearance of the meeting halls.
Township supervisor Hoemke is impressed with Pickerd’s carvings, having seen some of them up close, including the Algoma emblem on a regular basis.
“He’s very talented,” Hoemke said. “These are gorgeous works. And he doesn’t do them to toot his own horn. He likes to be active; he likes to be involved.”
Pickerd was quick to quick to point out that none of his work would be possible without the love, support and encouragement of his wife Sharon.
But no matter what he is working on today, Pickerd’s reasons and mantra stay the same. “Find something you’re passionate about, and help that organization get better, become a better place or community. Once you give back, it’s hard to say no.”
Pickerd said not only does he care deeply about his community, but everyone should have a chance to give back. He said he cares less about leaving his mark than just helping wherever needed. He said he’d rather be remembered as “the guy that had the smile on his face.”
“I have been blessed numerous times, and now I have a chance to give back. Our country could use a few less greedy people and a few more helping people,” added Pickerd. “Just get involved. It doesn’t matter where. Young parents, get involved in school or Little League, or get involved in the city or parks department, or church, or help neighbors care for their yard. Heck, I’ll give them a list of a dozen places. There are always places that need volunteers to give a few hours. You become the blessed one that gets back.”