Rockford Area Historical Society News and Updates for 7/12/18

By Terry Konkle – President

The annual “Golden R” meeting took place at Rockford Senior High School on Saturday, June 30, 2018. The social time and punch bowl started at 10:30 A.M. with the luncheon following at 12:00. The event honors Rockford High School graduates and those associated with them who have been out of school fifty years and more. Former Rockford student, athlete, coach and teacher, Lyle Bennett, suggested the event in 1987 and the tradition has carried on since then.

Every year a new class is inducted with this year being the class of 1968. Over the reunions history many people have served as chairpersons of the event. All of them are listed in the program made available on the tables used for the luncheon. Neil Blakeslee (class of 66) served as the master of ceremonies for the event.  He began by introducing this year’s chairperson, Judy Critchell Wooden (class of 1963). She welcomed the group of over 350. After an invocation by Kirsten Carlson Farmer (class of 61) everyone had their meal and then settled in for a short program.

Rockford Public Schools superintendent, Doctor Michael S. Shibler, presented an always interesting review of the status of our school system and thanked all in the gathering for their role in its’ history. Gene Berry (class of 54) then explained the “Golden R” scholarship before presenting it to Claire Reichenbach who not only thanked the group but also spoke of her future plans.

Mr. Blakeslee then recognized three groups starting with all alumni who went back 65 years or more. Teachers were then honored followed by all families with generations of graduates. Jill Smith Goodell (67) welcomed the class of 1968 and Bunny Miller Bookwater from that class responded.

The gathering ended by thanking the committee members for their efforts and by singing “God Bless America”. The song was sung by everyone in recognition of all of our veterans. Karen VandenBosch Postema served as the pianist for the song.

The “Golden R” meeting is always an opportunity for people to meet and discuss the past and present and to have a positive time. I have attended many over the years as a teacher and enjoy watching and participating in the fellowship associated with it. Every year a large address book is put together which is a tremendous source for researchers and others.  Ruth Knox Robinson, with help I am sure, adds new addresses and updates old ones. This is a tremendous undertaking, and Rockford should be proud of her efforts. I know the Rockford Area Historical Society uses it often. There are some issues from earlier years available in the Rockford Area Museum.

The last “Nugget of Rockford history” asked readers to match given statements to a township or the city of Rockford. The letters were: A. Algoma, B. Cannon, C. Courtland, D. Plainfield and E. City of Rockford. Here are the answers: 1. Story Point – A, 2. Our Lady of Consolation – E, 3. Hyser Rivers Museum (D), 4. Rockford High School – D, 5. Honey Creek Inn – B, 6. North Kent Golf Course – C, 7. Richter Place Apartments – E, 8. Rockford Village – B, 9. House Street – D, 10.  Gougeburg School  – A, 11. Silver Lake Golf Course – B, 12 Pioneer Cemetery – E, 13. Village of Childsdale – D, 14 Wolverine World Wide – E, 15. Named after a boat – A, 16. Shank School – C, 17. Herman’s Boy – E, 18. Townsend Park – B, 19. Belmont School – D, 20. Birthplace of John Sjogren – A. I received responses from Bill Boyd, Cliff Hill, Nancy Hill, Dave Hutchings, Kelly McLellan, Jack Bolt, Lee Paull and Sharon Berry, and I thank them for taking part. The new “Nugget” ask readers to tell me the importance of the date September 26, 2013 in Rockford history. Contact me by phone at 616-866-0530 or by email using (

As always, I welcome your comments, questions, concerns, ideas and especially corrections. Have a great, positive week!