Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

Terry Konkle – President


At our first monthly meeting On September 5, 2013, a large crowd turned out to hear Vic Villareal speak about the “Edmund Fitzgerald”. His presentation included possible theories as to why the ship sank during the major storm. During a question time after the program, several in the audience asked about several areas and also added information about the tragedy. It was obvious that some people came because of the topic and that is great. The Rockford Area Historical Society encourages and welcomes everyone to our meetings. It was a very interesting evening!

Over the past two weeks we have been carefully removing artifacts from display cases in the old museum and packing them in boxes for storage until we move them. We still have five areas left to pack, but things are moving along. We will have many duplicate things to deal with and some of them will be available in our upcoming auction on September 28.

I want to emphasize to readers the importance of our auction. Many have responded already with offers of donation items and also with a willingness to work on auction day. The auction is the major fundraiser of our group and the funds are vital to our budget for running the museum. Please keep the date open in order to take part in the bidding and spread the word to others. The museum will also be open that day for everyone to visit. Do we still need donations? Yes! Please contact us for details (Terry Konkle 616-866-0530 or Al Pratt 485-8144).

Recently, the Rockford Area Historical Society lost a dedicated member and friend with the passing of Helen Kies Uren Hessler at the age of 97. Helen was a lifetime Rockford resident, and her knowledge of our area history was excellent. Often, over the years, Helen contacted me to share her thoughts and I enjoyed our talks. She also wrote me at times with comments on our history. Sometimes, her daughter Dianne Skiver would call me and relate what her mother wanted me to know.

I vividly recall a presentation that Helen gave at one of our meetings. She took us on a walk through the town of Rockford. We never left the Community Cabin that night, but she walked us up and down the blocks describing the town as she knew it as a child. We traveled Main, Monroe, Bridge and Courtland Streets mainly and learned about the people and places that we went past. She made the area come alive for many of us that night as her recollections took over our minds. What a wonderful memory for me of a special lady!

I will close with a museum observation from this past summer. Many people with Rockford connections return to our area for vacation time and several of them have visited the new museum. Often, I have been there when they came in, and we have had an opportunity to talk. Every person I have met was very impressed with what was happening.

This past weekend I saw my friend Morey Beemer and two of his relatives as they were leaving the building. Our museum consultant, Jerry Adams of Media Rare, had shown them through and their reaction was typical of others. “We had a great tour and were very impressed” they said. Their praise for what they had experienced was very satisfying. The hard work of so many is making a difference and is a positive influence on our area.


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