By BETH ALTENA
Pillars of the greater Rockford community were recognized Tuesday, May 7 at a very special ceremony that had the meeting room of Rockford City Hall packed and an impressive crowd at Peppler Park’s Recognition Plaza. The Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE) has a difficult job of selecting the very elite of our communities, the City of Rockford and the surrounding townships. Those chosen for lifetime achievement in making a lasting and permanent positive influence are recognized with a permanent plaque on the pillars in the bricked area of Peppler Park at the Rockford dam.
Dick Davies, RACE board member representing Cannon Township spoke at the event at City Hall, emphasizing that inductees are those people who “went the extra step” in their efforts to contribute to their community. He praised Margaret Janose, a life-long resident of Cannon Township and a 1950 graduate of Rockford High School. Janose is the founding member of the Cannon Area Historical Society, which she started in 1986 and has been president of ever since. Davies said the membership of the group is 180 people and the artifacts at the museum in downtown Cannonsburg date back to 1909 when the township was founded. The museum building, located just north of Honey Creek Inn, is the former township hall.
“Margaret has received many awards from the State of Michigan for her efforts,” Davies stated. “The first was a plaque for her work in having the museum building recognized as an historic site.” Janose also publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, mails dues notices to members and coordinates picnics and dinners throughout the summer. She spends countless hours at the museum, which is such a valuable resource to the community. Margaret has three children, two who still live in this area.
MaryAnn Andersen of Courtland Township next spoke to the large crowd. She talked about the late Jim and Kletis McIntyre who she described as “pillars of the community.” Jim came on board with the township when he was elected in 1998. He was a farmer who lived in the township his entire life. He was the valedictorian of his Cedar Springs High School class of 1950 and president of the Shank School Board in 1961.
Andersen said Jim was also president of Rockford Junior Baseball, the predecessor of Little League from the mid 1960s into the 1970s. He built and maintained a ball field at his farm on Courtland Drive, which has been used by area youth and adults for over 40 years.
“Jim ran for Courtland Township Trustee in 1988 and continued to serve Courtland Township in a number of offices over the years,” said Andersen. “From 1996 until his death in 2010, Jim was the Supervisor of Courtland Township. In 1990, Jim was an essential part of the organization and formation of the Courtland Township Fire Department. Jim served a number of years on the Fire Board. He was also instrumental in the design and construction of both fire stations.”
“During Jim’s tenure Courtland Township conducted our first mid-decade census, in 1996, which in part, enabled us to construct our present township hall located at 7450 14 Mile Road.” Jim was also part of the planning team for the construction of the PARCCside waste water treatment plant.
Kletis McIntyre’s mother taught at Courtland Center School, located on 13 Mile Road. Kletis graduated in 1950 from Rockford High School where she was editor of the RHS newspaper. Her graduation represented five generations of her family graduating from Rockford High School.
During the 1970s and 80s Kletis was an active member and for many years served as secretary of the Women for the Survival of Agriculture in Michigan.
She was a founding member of the Courtland Township Fire Auxiliary, serving in a number of positions. She organized and chaired the very successful Courtland Township Sesquicentennial in 1989 and later several community-wide picnics. She was also instrumental in establishing Courtland Clippings, the township newsletter.
“All in all, Jim and Kletis ‘lived and breathed’ Courtland Township. Our community is a better place because of the McIntyres and the Courtland Township Board is honored to present their names to be placed on the pillars of honor.”
Plainfield Township Trustee Vic Matthews spoke about the next inductee, Bob Boyer. “Bob came to Rockford as a teacher in the fall of 1949 and has remained in the Rockford community since that time,” said Matthews. “As a teacher, coach and middle school principal, he guided and influenced thousands of people. He served as a class advisor and ran the school bookstore. He was the first principal at the new freshman center building in 1972. He was also a follower of Rockford High School athletics and a mentor to many younger teachers.”
After retirement in 1979, Boyer continued to influence this community in many ways. He is a Rotary Club member who has been very active in the group. For forty years he conducted tours of the Little Red School House. He has been a long-time member of Rockford Area Historical Society and serves on its board of directors today. For several years the society picnic was held at his home. He regularly attends Rotary and Historical Society functions. He is a member of the Rockford United Methodist Church and keeps active there too. He visits church members who need companionship and rarely misses Sunday service. He volunteers for many church activities.
Boyer has traveled to many interesting places and has presented travelogues to various groups including the Historical Society and at Bishop Hills. He has kept a personal diary since the age of twelve. For many years he could be found at Rockford High School swim meets and water polo matches selling tickets. He has followed his grandchildren in their activities. One of his grandchildren, Al Reikard, is a Rockford school administrator.
Boyer has a tremendous amount of knowledge about our area and is always willing to share it. He was a very good sense of humor and his clever quips make our community and world a better place. He believes in helping others and his actions exemplify his beliefs. He is still going strong at the age of 94.
“Bob often says ‘Be fair, be firm, be friendly.’ “ said Matthews. “and he is all of those things. He is a positive example of a person who has made our community a better place.” Boyer was nominated to the Recognition Plaza by Jan and Terry Konkle of the Rockford Area Historical Society.
Former Rockford Mayor Neil Blakeslee spoke about the next inductee, someone who has touched so many lives in the Rockford community and has long been a credit to the town in many ways. Neil said if she had achieved nothing else, many in town would be grateful that Joyce Torrey is the mother of three of the prettiest girls Rockford has ever seen. He said during school, he and many others were among admirers of Joyce’s girls and he gratefully thanked her for that. Blakeslee said he has known Joyce for a lot of years and she is exactly the quality of person that RACE hopes to find to include in the Recognition Plaza.
Blakeslee said Rockford now is known for a dedication and enthusiasm for the arts, and that reputation has grown and flourished under the efforts of Torrey over many years.
Joyce Torrey has been president of the Rockford Area Arts Commission for 30 years, helping grow the arts in this town on many levels. “She became part of the commission in 1975 and is still an active member,” Matthews said. “She started the Rockford Community Choir, Orchestra and Band. She was also heavily involved in the Celtic Festival held for many years in Rockford.”
Joyce was instrumental in brining the Lollipop Concerts to the Rockford Schools. She spoke to many groups including classes in schools, about her travels to China and elsewhere. Joyce began the summer theater camps for the K-12 students. Her greatest achievement is in raising four wonderful children. “The character of Rockford has been shaped and improved tremendously by this lady,” Neil stated. “She is very deserving of this honor.”