by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society This column is about a player I coached at Rockford High School. His name is Arlo Elkins, and he left a lasting impression on my life. Recently he passed away and memories of him keep popping up in my mind. Arlo’s best sport was tennis and, after graduation from Rockford High School in 1967, he went on to play in college and then on the pro tour. He was also a club pro and then the head girls’ tennis coach at the University of South Carolina where his teams were nationally ranked almost every year. He resigned earlier this year because of his health. He had coached there since 1984. Often, when he came back to Rockford, he would stop by to visit. I enjoyed seeing him, yet my best memories go back to his high school days when I coached him in junior varsity football, varsity and JV basketball, and varsity tennis. His father Ardie and mother Norrine both worked for the school and his older brothers Larry and Dan were both athletes, so Arlo often could be found “hanging around” the athletic areas when he was growing up. Was he a pest? No! He was a “gym rat.” He was a team manager. He helped with our summer swim program. He liked to be busy, and he usually was fun to be around. He was an average football player, an excellent basketball player, and a tremendous tennis participant. Often I am asked which athlete I think was Rockford High School’s greatest, and I cannot make that selection. I do know who was our greatest tennis player though. ARLO ELKINS! In his four-year high school career, he won 72 regular season matches and lost two (both in his freshman year). In his senior year he won the MHSAA Class B number one singles title. That season he only lost one set all year. By chance, I was the tennis coach because our coach left and no one wanted the job. Arlo actually coached the team while I tried to supervise the squad. I also kept him in line when he got a bit “cocky.” He was one of those “rare” athletes who did what he said […]
The Izaak Walton League Winterfest is designed to share the glories of the winter season: snowflakes, ice fishing, skating, cross-country skiing, animal tracks in the snow, sculptures, shelters, sledding, nature, and fun! This year, the Dwight Lydell Chapter is hoping to have some snow to celebrate. While some people prefer more tropical weather, many look forward to the variety that our seasons bring, and the truth is, much of our wildlife depends upon it. The Winterfest “show” will go on either way, as there are also many activities that don’t require snow, such as archery, exploring the Conservation Center’s trails, making a birdfeeder or house, building a camp of pine branches, or enjoying a hotdog lunch. All of the activities are free and open to the community. The “Ikes” welcome this chance for you to see what their group has to offer, with 39 acres, Armstrong Creek, a pond, cozy clubhouse, and folks committed to preserving our natural resources. This chapter started in 1927, with hunters and fishermen as “defenders of soil, air, woods, waters, and wildlife.” The nonprofit continues with these issues and also kids’ need for nature. This event is free, but they always appreciate donations for their projects involving schools, education, workshops, and outdoor activities. The League invites you, your friends and especially children to enjoy the fun from 10 to 3 p.m. at 5641 Myers Lake Ave., on January 28. If you would like to be involved as a volunteer, perhaps on the sledding hill, in the kitchen, or anything at all, please call Georgia Donovan at (616) 773-2850 or e-mail to email@example.com.
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Last Tuesday afternoon found us at Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park to attend a visitation and pay our respects to a man we had personally come to know as one without equal – Fred Meijer. We were not there as reporters to cover Fred’s passing but rather as two of thousands, that afternoon and evening, who felt compelled to gather and reminisce with one another and Meijer family members about the life and times of Fred and the role he played in all of our lives. The “six degrees of separation” theory refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth. That theory did not apply to Fred Meijer. In Fred’s case, it was more like one degree of separation. Is there a person in West Michigan that does not have a Fred story to tell? Certainly everyone present last Tuesday could attest to that. So much for computer-age social networks, Fred accomplished much the same with countless thousands of peoples in good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation. Fred was a man of the people who had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. If you crossed paths with him, he was always graciously approachable. In conversation, you became his new friend. He learned your name, what you did for a living, and how you felt about things in general. Both parties were enriched by the encounter and parted ways having learned something new and possibly, at the same time, enjoying a good laugh, oftentimes at Fred’s expense. Is there another billionaire anywhere who has freely made himself available to his fellow man more than Fred Meijer? We think not. Your reporters, the Hills, had the good fortune to meet Fred numerous times in covering events where he was present. Sometimes, also, it was just happenstance. It could have been at Meijer Gardens itself, where we are members, or it could have been at one of the local Meijer stores while we were shopping. Two occasions that stand out in our minds occurred while we were covering local events for the Squire where Fred was the focal point. On one in 2008, Fred was the guest of honor at a […]
By TERRY KONKLE President As many people know, the Rockford Area Historical Society believes that the preservation and presentation of our history is important. A major goal of the group is to help fund a museum to display our history and to educate all ages as to what has happened in our area over the years. Right now our society, with the help of others, is working to create a major change for our area. We need lots of help from people, organizations and businesses to make a positive impact on our history. Members of the Rockford Area Historical Society along with many other people in our community continue to work toward moving the Rockford Area Museum (RAM) from its present location to the vacant portion of the Rockford District Court building. Fundraising has been going on for about three months, and we have received many pledges and money toward the project. We have also had offers of help with the cost of construction from several businesses. As of December 1, 2011 we have commitments for close to $120,000. This is about one third of what we projected to the city of Rockford ($340,000) to be needed to finance the move. Because of the offers of in kind help, the total cost should be lower than the $340,000. Fundraising brochures, which explain our project and show how to pledge or donate, are available at many local businesses including the Rockford Squire, Herman’s Boy and Antor Travel and by contacting the society (Terry Konkle 616-866-0530). It has been brought to our attention that the partial Michigan tax credit for donations to groups like a museum will NOT be tax deducible in Michigan after this year, so donors should be aware of it when making donations (make them before the end of the year). The Rockford Area Historical Society and the Rockford Area Community Endowment are both 501 (c) (3) non profit organizations. The society has a fundraising event planned for Saturday, February 18, 2012 when Mark Randisi will bring his outstanding Frank Sinatra show,”THE SOUND OF SINATRA” to the Rockford High School Fine Arts Auditorium. Publicity and ticket sales information is in place and tickets are already being sold on line at www.ramshow2012.com and at the following area locations: Antor Travel-Northland Drive and12 Mile, Double Take-Rockford, […]