Each year the Rockford Community Endowment recognizes a few special people for their life-long contribution to the community. This year’s inductees to the Peppler Park Recognition Plaza were all posthumous awards. Submitted by Cannon Township, this is the biography of Fire Chief Harry Morris, Jr. Life of Harry Morris Jr. Fire Chief Harry Morris, affectionately known as “Junior” was Cannon Township’s fire chief for 39 years before he died in January 2009. He served the community of Cannon Township in the fire service for 55 years and was named fire chief on April 14, 1970. Morris was born May 12, 1925 in Cannon Township, the son of Harry and Mary (Byrne) Morris. He worked the family farm along with his daughters and sons. With his son Jim (the current fire chief) they operated the only active dairy farm in Cannon Township. Throughout his storied career, the Cannon Fire Department underwent many transitions. In the beginning, the two-stall station built by volunteers, donations and a sense of duty to the community, helped serve the tiny community. As the township grew so did the sense of duty and safety to the residents of Cannon Township community and nearby communities. He was the driving force that incorporated EMS service into the fire department. Cannon Township Fire Department has become one of the most respected and successful departments in the region and a point of pride for all of Cannon Township. On June 19, 2004 a dedication ceremony was held to rename the Cannon Township Fire Station No. 1 in his honor to recognize Chief Morris’s 50 years service to the township. His wife Partricia (Scheidel) the love of his life, died on January 12, 1984. Together they had nine children, all of whom still live in the area. He has 23 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. His progressive style and dedication to the people of Cannon Township is dearly missed by his community and fellow firefighters.
Rockford Community Endowment
Rockford’s Recognition Plaza at Peppler Park is three names richer after a Community Endowment ceremony officially recognized three people of historic significance. Held indoors because of weather, representatives from the families of Edna Haner, Harry Morris Jr., and Glenn Rounds were on hand Tuesday, May 11 at Rockford City Hall. Each of the individuals chosen for this honor are recognized with a permanent plaque at Peppler Park east of the Rockford dam. The Endowment honors those who have made a contribution to the communities in the greater Rockford area. When visiting Peppler Park Recognition Plaza, you may view the plaques to see the names of those who have been recognized for their service to the area. Also see the bricks throughout the plaza with names of individuals, families and businesses. They are available through the City of Rockford for just $125 and are a gift that gives a permanent legacy in Rockford. Watch future issues of The Squire to read the stories of how Edna Haner, Harry Morris Jr. and Glenn Rounds earned their special place in Rockford’s history.
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 […]
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. William H. Myers Sr. William H. Myers, an early settler in Kent County and the man for whom Myers Lake was named, filled his 92 years of life with adventure, accomplishment and community leadership. Myers, born in Ireland in 1818, was brought to America as an infant. In 1830, the family moved to Michigan Territory. At 15, Myers secured parental consent to leave home and seek his fortune. He first spent three years as cabin boy on a Lake Michigan sailing ship, then a number of years serving on ocean vessels and traveling to South America, Venezuela, and the Falkland Islands. From there, he shipped on a whaling boat for three years as first mate in the Upper Pacific. He returned home in 1840 and married Elizabeth Dancer, producing a family of nine children. In 1847, the Myerses came to Courtland Township and purchased 160 acres of uncleared land for $1.25 per acre. In the 1840s, there was an increasing stream of settlers in the townships of Plainfield, Cannon, Oakfield and Courtland, but towns were few. Courtland Center (at what is now 13 Mile Road and Myers Lake Avenue) was a stagecoach stop. Laphamville (now Rockford) was a small village on the Rogue River. Over the years, Myers improved his farm until it was one of the best in the region. This active farm is still in the Myers family, […]
The Rockford Area Community Endowment is accepting nominations for its annual Community Recognition Award. The Community Recognition Award is given to an individual or community organization that has achieved significant accomplishment in their lifetime through career, community or personal success. Nominees must be or have been a resident of the Rockford Public School District. Desirable characteristics may include the following: Courage-exemplifies courage and determination. Initiative-demonstrates drive and initiative in his/her approach to accomplishing a goal, project, objective, etc. Achievement-has achieved something of lasting significance. Time Commitment-volunteers a significant amount of time and energy to the community, to further a cause, project or issue. Effectiveness-generates positive results from their actions. Nominations are accepted from the public at large and should be submitted in writing to: Rockford Area Community Endowment, Attention: Awards, P.O. Box 561, Rockford, MI 49341 by April 13, 2009. The written nomination shall outline, in one typed page or less, the qualities that exemplify why the candidate should be considered for the award. The Board of Directors will consider each nominee on his/her merits. The Community Recognition Award will be presented during the May meeting of the Rockford Area Community Endowment. The award will include an engraved plaque with the recipient’s name placed on a column in the Recognition Plaza at Peppler Park (Rockford Dam).