Clarence Blakeslee

Community Endowment connects present with historic figures

July 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

This spring, The Rockford Squire reported that five historic people in the Rockford area were honored at Recognition Plaza at Peppler Park. The event is a newer tradition in its second year and organized by the Rockford Area Community Endowment (RACE). Each year, RACE will honor people from the City of Rockford and the townships of Algoma, Cannon, Courtland and Plainfield. In addition to the gift of grants, recognizing the people who have contributed significantly to the history of the area is among the Endowment’s goals. When visiting the beautiful Peppler Park Recognition Plaza (on the west side of the dam), take the time to read the names on the bricks under your feet and in plaques on the columns in the park. The following is one more of the stories of this year’s honorees, with others to follow in future issues of the Squire. Clarence Blakeslee Not long ago, renowned newsman Tom Brokaw wrote a book entitled “The Greatest Generation.” That book recognized the generation of Americans who were born in the early 1900s, survived two world wars and the most crippling economic depression in American history. Clarence Blakeslee exemplifies that generation and all that it stands for, as well as any American. The Rockford area was truly blessed by many of that greatest generation, and the history of this community will always be much more richly colored because of the lives of those people, not the least of which is our own Clarence Blakeslee, or as he has come to be known, Mr. Rockford. Clarence was born in Grand Rapids in 1914. By 1918, his parents had divorced and he moved to Courtland Township for his first Rockford experience. He moved several times after that, including back to Grand Rapids and to Ionia, but in 1926 his mother—with a horse and wagon load of kids, furniture and a new husband—moved back to the Rockford area. It was a move that brought a lifetime of mutual love and respect between Clarence and his new home and neighbors of Rockford. Clarence graduated from Rockford Senior High School in 1932 after a distinguished high school career that included varsity letters in track, football and basketball. The classroom was a success also and it was recognized by […]

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