Founders Day, an annual event, was extra special this year. A larger-than-normal crowd gathered at the Rochester Hills Museum, not only to recognize six new “founders,” but also to kick off the start to the City of Rochester’s 200th year celebration.
Founded on March 17, 1817 by James Graham, Rochester has grown, keeping up with the times, yet holding on to its past. “Small town feel” is alive and well in Rochester. This year’s event was held in the 1927 Calf Barn of the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm. There was some criticism about moving the event out of Rochester; however, the museum served as a perfect venue to host this Greater Rochester community event.
Six individuals where inducted in to the Community Hall of Fame. Recognized for their positive and long-term impacts on the area. Dr. William Pietryk of the Rochester Historical Commission welcomed everyone to the event; and Patrick McKay, Rochester Hills Museum Manager, continued that welcome. Three of the six inductees were on hand to accept the honor. Each one introduced by a member of the community:
Honorable William S. Broomfield (1922 – present), Introduced by Tiffany Stozicki (accepted by family member)
William S. Broomfield served in the Michigan State House of Representatives (1949-1954) and the US House of Representatives from 1957-1993 where he served the 18th and 19th districts of Michigan. As a member of the Foreign Affairs committee he worked with many world leaders including Nelson Mandela, Anwar Sadat, the Dali Lama, and more. He is a descendant of the original Taylor Family that settled the Rochester community.
Peggy Johnson (1928 – present), Introduced by Samantha Lawrence
Peggy Johnson was a driving force for the preservation of Oakland County’s unique natural resources for more than forty years. She worked diligently to maintain the integrity of southeastern Michigan’s array of water sources as well as serving as a leader in land preservation. She helped bring awareness to protect the Clinton River and its floodplains, sponsored school water quality monitoring programs, led the creation of the Oakland Township Parks Commission and encouraged the establishment of the Paint Creek Trail.
Gail Kemler ( 1917 – present), Introduced by Michele Dunham
Gail moved to Rochester in 1921 and was a member of the Rochester Community School Board, Rochester Historical Commission, Rochester-Avon Historical Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, Rochester Lions Club, and many more organizations. She helped establish the Helping Hands Food Pantry, and was a local business owner, and real estate agent.
Gladys McKenney (1928 – present), Introduced by Maureen Thalmann
Gladys McKenney was a teacher in the Rochester Community Schools and taught curriculum on Women in History, Anthropology, and Black History. She created programs that addressed the women’s suffrage movement, and has been active in various social causes to promote women. In 2013, she was elected to the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.
Eugene Nowicki ( 1919-1999), Introduced by Mary Eberline (accepted by family member)
“Gene” Nowicki was a long term public servant in Avon Township and Rochester Hills. He was an elected member of City Council, member of the Planning Commission, and served on the City Charter Commission. In 1990 he was recognized with a lifetime achievement award by Rochester Hills for his environmental protection efforts. Eugene S. Nowicki Park is named in his honor on Adams Road north of Walton Boulevard.
Robert Simpson Woodward ( 1849-1924), Recognized by Patrick McKay
Robert Woodward was born in Rochester and graduated from Rochester High School in 1868. In 1872 he graduated from the University of Michigan and served as an assistant engineer for the United States Lake Survey, professor of mechanics and mathematical physics at Columbia, and was the first president of the Carnegie Institute. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and president of the American Mathematical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His home in Washington DC is a National Historic Landmark.
Plaques recognizing all 23 members of the Community Hall of Fame are on display in the Dairy Barn at the Rochester Hills Museum. The public is welcome to visit the Rochester Bicentennial Exhibit.
Kristi Trevarrow, Executive Director of the Rochester Downtown Development Authority, presented highlights to come this year as Rochester celebrates their Bicentennial. One fun and exciting announcement was the return of the Floatable Boatable, to be held during the Heritage Festival. It’s going to be a big, big year for Rochester.
Rochester Mayor Cathy Daldin and her husband Tom Daldin (Host of the PBS program, Under the Radar) spoke about why they moved to Rochester. Both explained their love and passion for the city and took questions from the audience.
Local author and Rochester business owner, Robert Lytle, was there signing books. Bob is a supporter for the community and shares his passion for history on the pages of his books.
Watch the entire event here, recorded by Rochester Hills TV: