November 18 2009

Just call him ‘Fred’

November 18, 2009 // 0 Comments

Meijer book-signing event an evening of fun by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Last Wednesday evening, Nov. 11, as Fred and Lena Meijer walked through the entrance of North Rockford Middle School, they were greeted by someone who said, “Hi, Fred. How are you?” With a big grin on his face, Fred’s quick-witted response was, “You don’t ask a 90-year-old man a question like that unless you have the rest of the day for the answer!” Thus set the tone for an evening of fun. Fred—as always, he insists that everyone call him by his first name—and Lena were in town for a Rockford Area Historical Society sponsored book-signing event. The featured book was “Fred Meijer – Stories of His Life,” authored by Bill Smith and Larry ten Harmsel, who were also present. A near-capacity crowd filled the school’s auditorium as Terry Konkle, president of the Rockford Area Historical Society, welcomed everyone present to a short program prior to the book-signing. After a brief and hilarious video—Fred was seen and heard singing “Happy Trails to You”—ten Harmsel, historian for the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and one of the book’s authors, read an excerpt from the book from a time when Fred was a boy of 13. Ten Harmsel then introduced his co-author, Smith, a Meijer Corporation employee for over 40 years. The banter of both men was lighthearted as they led into the introduction of the guest of honor, Fred Meijer.   Fred, as he always does, held everyone in the palm of his hand as he spoke lovingly of his bride of nearly 63 years, telling everyone, “She is only 39 years old and she’s the boss and always has been.” Lena loved it and so did we. He went on to introduce his personal assistant, Pam Kleibusch, who has been his “right-hand woman” at Meijer Inc. for 52 years. Fred finished by saying, “The grocery business is serious business. We’ve got to pay the bills, do the job, and have fun along the way.”   The audience then exited to the foyer for the book-signing and light refreshments provided by the Historical Society. Everyone present that evening had arrived with a previously purchased book or bought one that night at the door. […]

Ram volleyball victorious in regional competition

November 18, 2009 // 0 Comments

by Becky Erste-Holmberg On Tuesday evening, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m., the Rockford varsity volleyball team took on the Hudsonville Eagles in the first round of regional competition. The warm-ups featured cross court action with the coaches spiking for the players to dig the ball. The National Anthem began the evening, sung by the Rams’ own Ali Prus, and then the players were announced. There are six seniors on the Rockford team, however the night’s win was a collaborative one. The Rams won three out of five games to win the match, and all three were tough, tight games. The first game ended in a 25-23 Ram win. It featured good blocks by Andrea Kacsits (#10), Jenna Lysne (#14), Kylie Basarabski (#7), and Kim Weaver (#6). Excellent serving was made by Heather Gates (#5) and Ali Prus (#8). Finally, the first game featured excellent hits by Jessica Majerle (#15). Points are made by rally scoring, meaning one doesn’t have to be serving to score a point. Also, the ball can hit the net on a serve as long as it goes over the net and stays in bounds on the opposing side. In the second game, the teams switched sides and the Rams started out slowly. Rockford was down 0-4, but came back and the teams were neck-and-neck before the Rams took over the game to win 25-15. This game featured some long volleys and spikes by Calie Johnson (#1), great serving by Halle Peterson (#12) and the all-around good play by Kacsits. In the third game of the match for the evening, the Ram mascots came out and, along with the crowd, looked on as the Rams defeated the Eagles in another 25-23 win. This game wasn’t pretty, however, as the Rams just snuck it out from being down 16-20. Rockford tied it at 23 and got the last 2 points to pull out the game with some good jump serves by Sidney Rodriguez (#9). This win qualified Rockford for the regional championship game at Rockford High School on Thursday, Nov. 12 against Grand Haven. Rockford won their first regional championship for the school in volleyball history against Grand Haven. Coach Delacher said he was “super proud” of the girls, as they worked really […]

Old broads hold pajama party at Grandma’s House

November 18, 2009 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Last Friday evening we had just settled down for a quiet evening of reading. Around 8:30 the phone rang and a guy named Larry tipped us off to a loud and boisterous party going on in a residence in Rockford. Thinking there might be a story here, we headed out to check it out. Pulling into the driveway of the address given, we found ourselves at Grandma’s House, the bed and breakfast owned and operated by Rockford Mayor Janice “Chi Chi” Rogers and her husband Larry. (Yes, he was the caller!) We could hear loud laughter coming through the walls. Thinking it might not be politically correct for us to be there, we were just about to leave when the front door flew open and Chi Chi beckoned us in. We quickly found out Chi Chi was hosting a pajama party, of all things, for four of her closest friends. Now here’s the best part: they weren’t just any women—they were the mayors or mayors pro-tem of Cedar Springs, Rockford, Walker and Wyoming. The lady mayors had met earlier for dinner at Rockford’s Reds on the River, where, we were told by the others, Chi Chi had “worked the room” like the consummate politician she is. After dinner, the get-together moved to Grandma’s House for a first-ever sleepover. These twice-annual get-togethers had usually been dinner out and good conversation. This year was different, because Mayor Carol Sheets of Wyoming and Mayor Linda Hunt of Cedar Springs were both retiring from political office after many years of distinguished public service. So the idea of a pj party in celebration was hatched. Other than the two retirees, and along with Chi Chi, mayors pro-tem Pat Capek of Cedar Springs and Barbara Holt of Walker were part of this tight group. Obviously this is a close group of friends who over the years have developed a strong personal and professional relationship as a result of a common shared interest in city governance. They are dedicated and talented women and extremely proud of their combined 89 years of public service. With a self-deprecating sense of humor, the ladies described themselves as “old broads.” They were seated around the dining room table in the evening’s […]

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