Terry Konkle


May 10, 2012 // 0 Comments

by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society I will begin this week by adding Kathy Dupont and Ray and Karen Fought to the list of those who knew that Zell Gill was the answer to my last trivia question. I also got a call from a young girl who, along with a few of her friends, did some research at the Kent District Library to find out who Mrs. Gill was. They did not know her, but now they do. All of the comments about Mrs. Gill were very flattering this week, as were all of those I received last week. In fact, I have decided after all of the positive responses I have gotten to several of my questions to NOT call them “trivia questions” in the future. How can answers like Zell Gill, Bob Boyer, Ruth Streeter and others be called trivia? From now on I will present “history questions” unless a reader can give me a better title. My thanks to all who have taken the time to call me with answers over the last few weeks! Before I give a new history question, I need to provide the reader with some information about a man called Lyle Bennett. He was a 1923 Rockford High School graduate and one of our top athletes of that time. After college at Central Michigan University, he came back to our town to teach and coach at the high school and was the driving force behind establishing our first “homecoming” football game in 1929. The tradition of having a homecoming contest still exists. When Bennett left Rockford, he went to Alma and then back to Central Michigan, where he was the head track coach for many years. The track at Central Michigan is named for him. He never forgot his Rockford roots and later suggested that Rockford hold an event each year to honor certain graduates. The question is in three parts, so I need three answers: “What is the name of the event; What month does it occur; What group is especially honored each year?” Contact me with your answers at (616) 866-0530. On Saturday, May 5, 2012, the Big Green Egg Cooker raffle was held at Herman’s Boy in Rockford with the drawing […]

Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

May 3, 2012 // 0 Comments

by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society  Sometimes when I ask trivia questions, I get a few answers and occasionally none at all. My last question was an exciting one, because I not only got a lot of correct replies, but with almost every one I learned how important Zell Gill was in the lives of many people. Yes, Zell Gill was the caring lady who served so well at the Rockford Library from 1960 to 1980. Here are some statements made by people who contacted me to answer the question: “She inspired my children to read;” “She met my daughter as we entered the library and told about a special book available just for her;” “She was a special lady who helped me with research when I attended Rockford High School;” “She knew her business and it seemed like she never forgot a person’s name;” “Mrs. Gill greeted you with a smile and encouraged you to read;” “Zell Gill instilled a love of reading in my son and daughter and now that I am older with more free time, I have the same passion;” “ Mrs. Gill was the Rockford Library as far as I was concerned.” Did Zell Gill make a difference in the lives of many Rockford people? You bet she did! The above remarks prove it. Now let me tell you something else. I know for a fact that she still makes a difference in the lives of people. She still cares and takes action to help others. I received correct responses from: Bill Boyd, Dave Hutchings, Versa Stoner, Ellen Byram Rothwell, Bruce Turner, Bob Winegar, Helen Hessler, Dianne Skiver, LeAnn Merrills, Barb Driscoll, Jan Konkle, Marcia Erickson, Brock Konkle and Carole Christensen. Thanks to all for responding and sharing your remarks. On Sunday, April 29, 2012, the Rogue River Community Theatre Group performed the “Ragweed Blues.” The show, which lasted just short of two hours, was filled with hilarious action and well received by a nice audience. Patricia Rose, who wrote the play and also had a major acting role in it, was a main force in the fact that there was a special matinee performance. She and all of the other members of the cast gave up their […]


April 26, 2012 // 0 Comments

by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society Let’s begin this week with an answer to a trivia question that I asked two weeks ago. The most recent Rockford High School sport to win a state championship was girls volleyball. The Rams squad won the state title on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011. This was the first time in our school history that girls volleyball accomplished the feat. I will ask another trivia question later in this column. Last week I mentioned some changes that had occurred on the north side of East Bridge Street since the time I lived there with my family in the early 1960s. This week we move across the street to the south side and the Krause Memorial Library. Many people know of the building as it looks today, but in 1960 it was different. It was smaller, with the main entrance facing Bridge Street. The entrance is still there but not used because the expanded building has a new entrance location on an angle at the corner of Bridge and Monroe. A postcard of the original library shows the building and surrounding area as I remember it in 1960, and I have been told that the location had not changed much since the library was built for the people of Rockford in 1936 by G. A. Krause in honor of his wife and daughter. A closer look at the postcard shows a house in the left background. It is facing Bridge Street but is gone now. It was torn down along with the house east of it when the Rockford United Methodist Church expanded a few years ago. How about the statue of the Union soldier? That monument was moved when the library expanded and now has a new home by the Community Cabin on Monroe Street next to Rum Creek. The tree to the right of the monument is gone. About the time we moved here, Rockford Library hired a lady to serve as an assistant librarian. Later, she became the head librarian, and I can vividly recall seeing her walking to work early in the day and then back to her home on Dayton Street after her hours were over. She made the library a “great place,” where […]


April 19, 2012 // 0 Comments

by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society When my wife and I came to Rockford in the summer of 1960, we needed a place to live. I had signed a contract to teach and coach at Rockford High School starting in September and was working as a driver for The Camera Shop in Grand Rapids during the summer. One of my delivery stops was Langridge Drugs in downtown Rockford, so I would drive different streets each day looking for a house to rent. My wife and two-month-old son would sometimes ride with me, and one Friday we spotted a “For Rent” sign on the porch pillar of a house on the northwest  corner of Bridge and Fremont streets. The next day (Saturday) we returned to town and went to the house to inquire about renting. Dallas and Myrna Harger lived there, and we found out that the actual house for rent was located at 145 East Bridge Street  across from the library. At that time, the Hargers owned most of the houses in that block. Early in our conversation that day, I learned that Mrs. Harger was the librarian at Rockford High School and that I would be working with her. I never dreamed that she and her husband would become our friends, and that Myrna would be a tremendous, accurate source on Rockford history. We rented the house, which had three rooms on the main floor and three more on the upstairs level. There was also an unfinished basement with three rooms, where some things could be stored. Before we left town that day, Mrs. Harger made a comment that went something like this: “Rockford is a nice area with lots of good people. We are a growing community so if you stay around awhile, you will see a lot of changes.” She was, of course, correct about the changes, and over the next few columns, I will discuss some of them. My wife and I have been here 52 years, but I know of others who have been in this community longer than that. I encourage readers to contact me with some of the changes they have seen. Both of the Hargers have passed away now, and I think we all realize […]

Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

April 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

by TERRY KONKLE President, Rockford Area Historical Society We will begin with a correction from last week’s column. I gave readers the wrong date for the benefit play “Ragweed Blues.” The performance by the Rogue River Community Theatre will take place on Sunday, April 29 at the Kent Theatre in Cedar Springs at 2:00 p.m. The cost is $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens, and $4 for students. All proceeds will go toward the Rockford Area Museum fundraising effort. Tickets are available at Independent Bank, from the society at (616) 866-0530, or the theatre group at (616) 874-5264. It was my fault that the date was wrong. Let’s move on to my last trivia question, which asked for the team sport that won our first state championship. Girls gymnastics recorded the feat in the 1988-89 school year. I talked to several interested people and had some incorrect answers. However, Dick Tatebe, whose daughter Tracey was one of the top performers on the team, called with the right answer. Rockford won the state meet with a score of 140.50. Troy Athens (139.90) and Midland Dow (138.30) finished second and third in the Friday, March 17, 1989 event. The coach of the squad was John Figueroa and team members were: seniors, Tracey Tatebe and Heather Shaffer; sophomore, Jill Stuart; and freshmen, Stacie Launstein, Renee Norkoli, Michelle Ferraresse and Nancy Tatebe. Four girls, Stuart (36.55), T. Tatebe  (36.30), Launstein (34.70) and Norkoli (32.95), did all of Rockford’s scoring. What a proud event in Rockford High School history. After all, only one team can be the first! Last week at our historical society meeting, our museum director, Pat Frye, made some comments for us to consider. She mentioned that we have a lot of information on our history but that NOT much of it deals with the more recent times. Her point was well taken and her emphasis was that we needed to document our recent history now so that in 50 years we will have it, and it will not be forgotten. Yesterday, last week, last month and last year are now history, but what have we saved or written about it? With that in mind, I thought it appropriate to ask another athletic state championship trivia […]

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