Biographical Sketches of Peninsular Club Members
Baker, Hollis M.
Bowman, Blaine W.
Brown, Wallace E.
Case, Russell W.
Dempsey, William C.
Fahlund, Dr. George T. R.
Gilmore, Bruce W.
Harmon, Henry S.
Haviland, J. B.
Howlett, Robert G.
Jack, William A.
Johnson, Charles G. and Earl M.
Jones, Thomas F.
Kindel, Charles J.
Kirsch, Charles E.
Maccardini, Reno J.
McCallum, Charles E.
Mueller, Frederick H.
Post, David E.
Reusser, Rev. Verdi L.
Rothfuss, Dorothy J.
Soet, H. David
Valenti, David A.
Vandenberg, Charles W.
Wood, Major Hattie
Worsfold, Donald R.
Zanella, John A.
Hollis M. Baker, President Baker
Furniture, Inc, Grand Rapids Chair Co. and Milling Road Furniture Co. Hollis was
born in Allegan, Michigan and educated at the University of Virginia.
He is a member of the Local and National Furniture Manufacturers Associations. He is a Director of the Grand Rapids and Lansing Branches of the Michigan National Bank.
He has memberships in Macatawa Bay, Chicago and New York Yacht Clubs, the Leash New York, Kent Country Club, The University Club, the Peninsular Club and the Indian Club.
He and wife Betsy have two daughters and one Granddaughter.
Bernard Christenson , President of the
Knickerbocker Press, is a lifetime resident of Grand Rapids and a graduate of
Union High School.
He has been a member of the Advertising Club of Grand Rapids for 20 years. He is also a member of the Grand Rapids Lions Club and the United States Power Squadron.
His hobbies are sailing, power boating, fishing and photography. He likes to write, enjoys good music and good books.
He and his wife Virginia have two daughters and a Granddaughter.
His favorite American? Thomas Jefferson.
John A. Zanella, President of Grand Rapids
Tile and Mosaic Company located at 1045 South Division.
John is on the Advisory Board of the Villa Maria.
He is a member of the Peninsular Club, Knights of Columbus and Elks.
John and his wife have a daughter, Mary Ann, a student at Kendall School of Design and a son, John, who has recently returned home from a three year hitch in the service.
Johnís big hobby is traveling. He has traveled much of the globe but enjoys trips to Italy most.
George Slykhouse, senior partner in the
Law firm of Bergstrom, Sly house & Shaw. Is a 1942 graduate of Creston High
School. After a World War II service hitch Sergeant Slykhouse finished Grand
Rapids Junior College (1947) and University of Michigan A.B. (19149) LL.B.
George is President of the G.R. Bar Association and a member of the Michigan and American Bar Association. He is a member and past President of U. of M. Alumni Association. He is on the Board of Directors of several Corporations and belongs to Trinity Methodist Church.
He and wife Joyce have two daughters and a son.
Hobbies: Golf, Hunting, Fishing and watching U. of M. beat MSU at anything !
Henry S. Harmon, retired, spent 25 years
with the Michigan Central Railroad and 25 years with Crossman Lumber Company.
He joined the peninsular Club in 1926. He is past President of the Exchange Club.
He loves to play cribbage. Spends his summers at his cottage on Big Star Lake where he enjoys fishing also plays Golf.
Charles W. Vandenberg, Vice President
and Secretary of the Vandenberg Jewelers, Inc. This has been a Family Business
A native of Grand Rapids he attended Ottawa Hills High School and Calvin College.
He is Past President of American Business Club and Grand Rapids Jewelers Association.
He and wife Betty have three children.
This Ex-Air Force Officer plays Golf at Blythefield and enjoys woodworking.
Bruce W. Gilmore, CLU General Agent
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.
A native of Illinois. He attended the University of Illinois.
He was been associated with NML for 45 years and general agent in Grand Rapids for 30 years.
He is past President of Michigan Life Leaders, Grand Rapids General Agents and
Managers association and the Grand Rapids Sales and Marketing Executives Club.
Bruce and his wife Helen have three sons, two daughters and 9 Grandchildren.
Hobbies: Hunting, skiing and traveling.
Sterling Barbour, President and Treasurer
of Central Michigan Paper Company.He joined this firm in 1939 as an Accountant.
He is active in Graphic Arts Affairs, and enjoys Golf at Greenridge Country Club.
Sterling and his wife Barbara have four children, Susan, Sara, John and James.
Steak, Baked Potato and Apple Pie!
David A. Valenti, President of the Allied
Stores Corp., and Board Chairman of Herpolsheimer Company, was born in Jersey
He received his degree from Columbia University, School of Business in 1941.
Valenti joined Allied Stores at its New York Office in 1945 in the early sixties he came to Grand Rapids.
He is a member of the Greater Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and the Central Grand Rapids Development Association.
David and his wife Alma have four daughters.
H. David Soet is a partner in the law Firm of
Bergstrom, Sly house & Shaw.
He is a graduate of Creston High School, G.R. Junior College and the University of Michigan Law School.
During the John F. Kennedy Administration Soet was appointed by Attorney General Robert Kennedy as Assistant U.S. District Attorney for the Western District of Michigan.
He loves to cook, his favorites are: Charcoaled Bratwurst and Lentil Soup.
He and his wife Christine have two children, a boy and a girl.
Blaine W. Bowman, President of Independent
Liberty Life Insurance C. Started out as a Beekeeper on his Fatherís Apiary in
Burt Lake, Michigan.
He received a Bachelor of Science Degree at Michigan State University, where he majored in Mathematics, in 1949.
He came to Grand Rapids in 1960 and Formed the Independent Security Life Co.
Which in 1962 became the Independent Liberty Life Insurance Co.
Blaine and his wife Jean have two children, a son and a daughter.
His hobbies are his Family and business.
Charles E. Kirsch, President of Kirsch
Co., of Sturgis, Mich., has recently been named to the Board of Directors of
Union Bank and Trust Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
His Favorite sport is sailing. He owns a 43í Sloop called the "PJ 43". He has raced her in the Chicago-Mackinac Race and Sailed her to Florida via the Southern Circuit.
He belongs to the Chicago Yacht Club and the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club.
Charles and wife Barbara have four children, 3 girls and a boy.
The Kirschís live in Sturgis, Michigan.
Rev. Verdi L. Reusser has been the
Associated Minister Fountain Street Church since 1947. He is a native of the
Swiss Community of Berne, Indiana.
He graduated from Westminster Choir College, Princeton, N.J. and Hartford Theological Seminary Hartford, Conn.
He has been a Board Member 8 years of Family Service Association and a member of Senior Citizen Coordinating Committee for United Community Service.
His wife Peg is active on Camp Fire Girls Board.
The Reverend's favorite hobbies are music, wild flowers and photography.
Reno J. Maccardini, Assistant General
Manager, Grand Rapids District Michigan Consolidated Gas Co.
He was born in Bessemer, Michigan and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University.
Reno and his wife Margaret have two children a daughter Mary Jane and a son Douglas.
He is on the Board of Directors of American Red Cross, Kent County Chapter; Grand Valley Council of Boy Scouts Of America; Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce; West
Michigan Tourist Association; the Greater Grand Rapids Safety Council; Family Service Association; Michigan United Fund; Community Action Program and Michigan State University Club of Kent County.
J. B. Haviland, Chairman of the Board,
Haviland Enterprizes which he founded in 1934.
He received a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering Degree from University of Detroit.
He married Mildred Seegrue, they have 12 children--three of whom received their Master Degrees in 1970.
He is past President of Serra International, a member of the G.R. Chamber of Commerce, the Elks, the Knights of Columbus and a Charter Member of the Center for Environmental study.
He received the 1st Aquinas College Distinguished Service Award and a 4H Award for Contributions to Safety in the Field of Agricultural Pesticides.
David E. Post, A.I.A. Architect was born in
Grand Rapids where he attended Ottawa Hills High and Junior College, in 1951. He
received a Degree in Architecture from the University of Michigan he is licensed
to practice Architecture in seven states.
He and his wife, the former Margaret McKay, have four sons, David, a law student at William & Mary Law School; Mark and Robert, Ottawa Hills High students and Scot Kevin, Harrison Park 5th grader.
Dave is past Director of the Michigan Society of Architects, Past President of Grand Valley Chapter American Institute of Architects and the Past President of the Grand Rapids Board of Education.
Paul Buben, Senior Vice President and Treasurer
of Independent Liberty Life Insurance Company.
He was born in Flint, Michigan.
He studied Engineering at Flint Junior College, graduated from Michigan State University (BA Mathematics) and received his M.A. (Actuarial Science) from the University of Michigan.
He and his wife Ella, live in Cascade. They have two children.
Paulís hobbies are tennis and golf.
William C. Dempsey, President and
General Manager of Station WZZM FM and WZZM-TV
He is Chief Barker of Variety Club Grand Rapids and Chairman, Area wide Coordinating
Council for Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
Is an Elder in Eastminster Presbyterian Church. He serves on three National Committees for his faith.
He also serves as a Board Member of the G.R. Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement, Torch Club of G.R., the G.R. Civic Theatre and Michigan Association of Broadcasters.
Bill loves filmís, Music, photography, sailing, public speaking and writing.
Charles E. McCallum, attorney, was born
in Memphis, Tennessee in 1939.
He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S., 1960). He continued his education at the University of Manchester England (Fulbright Scholar (1960-1961) and Vanderbilt University (LL.B 1964).
He is a member of the Grand Rapids, Tennessee and American Bar Association, and the State Bar of Michigan.
He is the Current Director of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.
Russell W. Case, Vice President in charge
of Investment, Old Kent Bank and Trust Co.
Was born in Grand Rapids, where he attended South High School and Davenport College.
He enjoys playing organ, traveling and playing golf, sailing is a hobby he pursues at the Long Boat Harbour Florida Yacht Club during the winter months, and Lake Michigan in the summer.
He and his wife make their residence on North Shore Drive, Spring Lake, they have a son and daughter and six grandchildren.
Dr. George T. R. Fahlund, M.D.,
Executive Director of Mary Free Bed Hospital and Rehabilation Complex.
B.S. 1936 U. of Chicago; M.D., 1938 Rush Medical School, U. of Chicago; MS in Surgery, 1948-U. of Minnesota; Fellowship in Surgery, Mayo Clinic, 1940-41.
Chief of General Surgery, Halloran General Hospital (U.S. Army) 1945-46; Private Practice (Surgery) Grand Rapids 1946-53; Chief of Surgery at Great Falls Clinic, Great Falls, Mont., and President of American Cancer Society, Montana Division, Inc.,
1957-60; Surgeon, Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Pa., 1960-68; Associate Director, Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals 1968-70; Author of numerous Scientific Articles, Lecturer to many State and National Hospital Organizations.
He and wife Angie have four children (two with Ph,.dís two working for advanced Degrees)
Hobbies: Golf, tennis and skiing.
Donald R. Worsfold, attorney partner
Phelps, Linsey, Strain & Worsfold.
Graduate of Detroit College of Law. Admitted to the Bar in 1961.
Member of Board of Trustees, Mayflower Congregational Church, third year; Director of Lions Club, Serves on Board For Welcome Home for the Blind.
Summer weekender at Portage Lake on 31 Foot Trojan Cabin Stinkboat.
Winter weekender Refinishing wife Annaldaís collection of Antiques.
Two children, Renny-6, Tracy Lynn-4.
All-American swimmer in High School and College.
Thomas F. Jones (Tom), Treasurer and
General Manager of Grand Rapids Forging & Steel Co.
1959 Graduate, University of Michigan (Business Administration) Avid Michigan Football Fan.
Club Lobbyist for Athletic Facilities at Pen Club (Anyone for Handball or paddleball?)
President of University of Michigan Alumni Club.
Hobbies are golf and skiing.
Wife Margy is Director of Miss Margyís School of Dancing and the six Jones' children.
Dorothy J. Rothfuss, C.P.A., Financial
Vice President, Secretary Controller at Mutual Home Federal Savings & Loan. Ohio
native, vacationed in Michigan in 1940, liked it, stayed, joined Lee & Cady,
Grocer Wholesalers. First Woman on staff of Berman Payne & Co. (1942) CPA firm
which Merged later with Touche Ross & Co.
First Woman CPA in Western Michigan (1950)
Hobbies quilting, knitting, rugmaking and cooking collects cook books and antique quilts.
Keeps books for GR area Council of Churches, Attends Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Became first Woman Pen Club member in 1971 (She wanted a good place to go to Lunch).
William A. Jack - Community Builder and Civic Leader Has Contributed Much to Peninsular Club Growth
December, 1934 - As those who know him intimately can testify, William A.
Jack, President of the Peninsular Club, is not satisfied merely to talk about
things. He likes to discuss the desirability of a program or project --to
analyze its constructive character and eventual benefits -- but when these have
been determined, it is characteristic of him to take the initiative in producing
It is this habit of translating words into deeds that explains the goodly measure of practical success Mr. Jack has achieved. With none of the educational advantages that most youths of today take for granted, "Bill" Jack, as a lad of fifteen came to grips with the problem of earning his own livelihood. At that early age he was selling stationary and other products in Pennsylvania and Ohio. There were plenty of discouragements during those trying years. But he proved equal to every challenge. Obstacles only served to strengthen his fortitude; disappointments merely renewed his determination to conquer.
By the time "Bill" Jack reached manhoodís estate he was matured enough in experience and the power of self-discipline to attempt an ambitious program of progress. Meanwhile he was alert to the importance and potentialities of new inventions in his chosen field. While living in Cleveland he discovered a man who had taken out a patent on a folding millinery box. He secured the patent and formed a company to utilize it. Next he found in Canada a new design for a folding suit box such as is used in large department stores. He also acquired the patent on this device.
Grand Rapids had long been a favored destination in the itinerary of the youthful salesman. Here he formed many friendships, and, in course of time, developed such an attachment for the city that he determined to found a company here. Accordingly, together with T. H. Goodspeed, S. A. Morman, L. T. Wilmarth, W. H. Gilbert and J. W. Goodspeed, he organized the American Paper Box Company, today known as the American Box Board Company.
The success of the American Box Board Company is a familiar story to most members of the Peninsular Club. The company is today one of Grand Rapidsí major industries. "This concern," says Mr. Jack, "never had a dollar of borrowed money and never lost a dollar in discounts."
But while building a great industry, Mr. Jack gave freely of his time and talents to fostering a cooperative community spirit -- to inspiring wholehearted union of effort in tackling the practical problems affecting the general welfare. Many will remember the splendid work he did as treasurer of the Welfare Union.
The great community get-together which took place in the local Armory on November 26, 1928, was made possible through Mr. Jackís generosity and initiative. The memory of that historic conclave remains as a constant source of inspiration and encouragement to hundreds who are today grappling with new problems and new conditions.
Among the more outstanding art contributions of Mr. Jack to the Grand Rapids Art Association are two masterpieces purchased by him while on a tour of Europe several summers ago. The first of these, the "Mosaic of St. Peter," came from the papal mosaic gallery. This mosaic is a duplicate of the one presented by the pope to president Woodrow Wilson, and which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It is the work of Ludovico Lucietto and is after a painting by Guido Reni, completed in 1789 and now hanging in St. Peterís at Rome. The other gift is a famous painting, "the Magdalen," a truly magnificent picture by Professor C. Muzzioli, painted in 1880 in the Pitti Palace at Florence. Italy. Both of these inspiring creations are on exhibit at the local art gallery and have been admired by throngs of Grand Rapids residents.
The Womenís City Club has also benefited through the generosity of Mr. Jack. The beautiful bas relief of the Madonna by Benedetto di Maraico, done in exquisitely tinted Carrara marble is one of his gifts.
Fountain Street Baptist Church -- one of the most beautiful churches in the entire nation -- owes much to the munificence of Mr. Jack. Although never a member of the church, Mr. Jack counted the late Dr. Wishart among the closest of his friends, and his appreciation of Dr. Wishartís work found expression in many beautiful gifts. He was one of the three men who furnished the splendid organ that has thrilled so many audiences. He it was who guaranteed to pay the organistís salary of $5,000 annually for ten years.
The unusually fine interior of he church, one of its most beautiful windows, the Memorial Tower -- all testify to the extent of Mr. Jackís generosity and the high regard in which he holds the memory of Dr. Wishart.
Mr. Jackís interest in beautifying local residential districts is exemplified by the beautiful estate on the south shore of Reedís Lake, which has attracted many thousands of visitors with its artistic landscaping, profusion of flowers and shrubbery. Although Mr. Jack no longer resides on this beautiful estate, it is still appropriately known to most of those who visit and revisit it as "The House that Jack built."
Mr. Jack retired from active business life four years ago, but he happily admits that he still finds plenty to keep him busy. With Mrs. Jack and two sons, William W., aged 20, and Thomas J., aged 15, Mr. Jack continues to find life a highly interesting adventure.
In addition to his duties as resident of the Peninsular Club, of which he has been a member for nearly a quarter of a century and a director for twelve years, Mr. Jack is a member of the Board of Control of the Civic Auditorium and Chairman of the local NRA Compliance Board.
(Transcriber: Barb Jones - Created: 12 December 2009)
Wallace E. Brown-His Achievements
Are As Impressive As His Size
If you were to ask Wallace E. Brown to recite the introductory paragraph of Kentís "Critique of Pure Reason" in the original German, heíd probably have a snappy come-back to the effect that the German word having the happiest connotation for him was "essick," meaning Vinegar.
For whenever he hears the term "vinegar," Mr. Brown thinks of "Vinegar Bill" Essick, manager of the old Grand Rapids Central League baseball team. In fact, if it hadnít been for "Vinegar Bill" and his Black Sox, the founding of the Grand Rapids Varnish Corporation might have been considerably delayed.
It happened at the opening game of the July series at Island Park back in 1915. Two salesman for varnish companies were trying to relieve the pavement pressure on their feet by sitting high up in the north bleachers of the park. The Evansville and Grand Rapids teams were going through "warming up" motions preliminary to the start of the game. Hot grounders were being hit to the infield. The short-stop, who might have been "Tuffy" Stiles, was doing some sensational fielding. He made one stop that was really spectacular. But he threw wildly to first base. The ball went into the south bleachers and all eyes, including those of the two salesmen, turned in that direction. The older of the two salesman stretched to his full height of six feet two inches, and looked beyond the bleachers. He spied the wide smokestack of an old power plant on the east bank of Grand River. Turning to his friend and rival salesman, he remarked:
"Fred, thereís a building that would make a good varnish factory." Fred Knight, too, was favorably impressed. He thought the matter over for a minute and then suggested: "Wallace, why donít you buy or lease the plant and start a factory of your own?"
That was the start of the Grand Rapids Varnish Corporation, and the turning point in the life of Wallace E. Brown. Once he had arrived at his decision, he had little difficulty in interesting several influential men in his project. At the first meeting the directors elected Mr. Brown president and general manager, a position he has held until this day.
Wallace E. Brown was born in 1871 in Milford, Mich., of Scotch-Irish parentage. The family later moved to Fremont, Mich., where Mr. Brown received his early schooling. His first work was as an apprentice to his father, who was a painter, a trade which had "lean days" a good part of the year. Three generation of painters and all his uncles engaged in the painting trade, had much to do with influencing Mr. Brown to enter the same trade, and if possible, carry it a bit further than his forbears had been able to do. That he has succeeded is amply evidenced by the fact that the Grand Rapids Varnish Corporation has kept three plants operating at full capacity through out the period of the depression, and has substantially increased its sales force. Mr. Brown is also the head of a subsidiary, the Grand Rapids Paint and Enamel Company whose Dutch Kraft products are favorably known throughout the Middle West.
The strong business organization which Mr. Brown has built around him now enables him to shift certain responsibilities to his two sons, and one son-in-law, who have been trained under his guidance, Frederick A. Brown is vice president in charge of manufacturing. Harry J. Brown, the younger son, is engaged in the advertising and sales promotion end of the business. Edward P. North, a son-in-law, is assistant general manager, devoting his energies to purchasing and selling.
Mr. Brownís chief ambition at the present time is to see Grand Rapids reclaim the title of " The City of Beautiful Homes," and he is vitally interested in all civic projects that will bring credit to the city. Not only does Mr. Brown devotes his interest to Grand Rapids, but he also gives his attention to the affairs of East Grand Rapids, where he was recently elected for a second term as commissioner of the third ward.
A great traveler, Mr. Brown finds his best relaxation in visiting the West Indies and wintering in California. His chief hobby is billiards and he can be found almost every noon playing at the "championís table" at the Club. He is interested in sports of all kinds, and is an ardent baseball fan, following the Detroit Tigers enthusiastically. He sponsors the Dutch Kraft baseball and basketball teams, which have a habit of winning city championship.
Mr. Brown is a director of the National Bank of Grand Rapids; a former vice president of the Association of Commerce; a member of the board of trustees of East Congregational Church and a director of the Peninsular Club. He is also a member of the Rotary Club, York Lodge, Blythefield Country Club, the Macdougal Hunting and Fishing Club, and a director of Butterworth Hospital. His firm, the Grand Rapids Varnish Corporation, boasts of ten active members in the Club: Joseph A. Hager, Howard R. Davidson, Frederick A. Brown, Harry J. Brown, Edward P. North, Willis B. Martin, Raymond L. Baxter, Charles F. Anderson, and Harold O. Worth.
Louis J. DeLamarter - January, 1935
Peninsular Club Pillar and Community Builder
By the time "Lou" DeLamarter as a lad of fifteen knuckled down to master the pluperfect subjunctive of "amare," he had quite definitely made up his mind that the square root of any six or seven digit number also had its charms. At the same time he discovered that a single stanza from Gilbert and Sullivanís "Mikado" possessed more popular appeal than a hundred strophes of Drydenís polished verse.
Which is just another way of saying that even before he completed his Union High School training, "Lou" was trying to hitch his ambition to two different stars. He wanted to be an engineer, but the romance of histrionics had already left an indelible impress. So he entrusted the final decision to the practical side of his nature and the slow workings of time. Meanwhile he continued to lay the educational groundwork for distinction in either vocation.
Perhaps the adventurous spirit of his forbears had something to do with Louis J.ís decision to make the theatrical field the first to conquer. The history of his ancestry is one of fearless seeking for new opportunities to express exuberant natures and progressive philosophies. The first DeLamarter came to America from France in 1652 largely because the intrigues and mandates of Louis XIII and his manager Mazarin conflicted with his conceptions of liberty. He wanted room to grow and do things. And Peter DeLamarter, grandfather of Louis J., was moved by a very similar spirit. He came to Michigan in 1837, the year in which the state was admitted to the Union, and became one of the early settlers in Livingston county. The family name of DeLamarter has in fact been illustriously linked with American history for seven generations, and with that of Michigan for three generations. With this pioneering blood coursing through his veins, it is small wonder that Louis J. as a young man felt the expansive urge. At that time Horace Greeleyís advice, "Go west, young man, go west!" was still pertinent and powerful. But the imagination of young Louis was lively. Instead of going west, he decided to recreate the west and the east and human virtues and foibles and follies for the people of the community as well as for himself through the medium of the theatre.
His first job was at the old Wonderland Theatre, located on the site of the present Heyman Store. Following that he was treasurer of Edmondís Grand Opera House and later also became treasurer of Powers Theatre. Shortly afterward he was promoted to the position of House Manager. Then the Majestic Theatre, at the time of its opening, claimed his services as manager of several road attractions.
The Grand Rapids Railway next engaged him as manager of Ramona Park, which rapidly became known as one of the foremost amusement parks in the United States. Its vaudeville shows were outstanding -- Will Rogers, Chic Sales, Rosa Ponselle and other contemporary spending considerable time at Ramona in the early days. Parenthetically, it is interesting to note that Will Rogers to this day refers to Ramona as DeLamarte Lake. Eventually, the executive and engineering side of Mr. DeLamarter began to assert itself. His ability became recognized and he was appointed secretary and treasurer of the railway company. In 1920 he became vice president and general manager, and later stepped to the topmost rung of the ladder when he was elected president and general manager.
As an indication of the esteem in which Mr. DeLamarterís services in behalf of the community were held, the action of the City Commission and the Association of Commerce in nominating him as Grand Rapidsí candidate for the Harman Foundation Award in 1926, can be cited. This award was to be made to the person who, "in the opinion of five judges to be chosen by Survey Associates, Inc., has been responsible for the creation, introduction or development of a distinctive contribution to our social, civic or industrial welfare.
Most Peninsular Club members will also recall the Charles A. Coffin Medal which was awarded the Grand Rapids Railway company in 1927, "in recognition of its distinguished contribution during the past year to the development of electrical transportation for the convenience of the public and the benefit of the industry." This award consisted of a gold medal, and $1,000 in cash which was turned over to employee organizations. Needless to say, Mr. DeLamarter, the engineer, played no small part in developing and perfecting the new type of electric rail coach which obsolete all previous types, and which brought international honor to Grand Rapids. The achievement is all the more remarkable when it is considered that the local railway company entered the contest in competition with the largest street railway systems in America.
Today Mr. DeLamarter retains the same active, forward-looking interest in his industry and in civic affairs generally. For many years he was a director and officers of the Association of Commerce, a member of East Grand Rapids School Board, and he has, of course, long been a director and vice president of the Peninsular Club. He has also served as chairman of the Welfare Drive. In addition, he was chairman of the Building Committee which had charge of the planning and erection of the Civic Auditorium. At the request of the City Commission he acted as manager of the Auditorium for the purpose of booking attractions and establishing dates prior to the formal opening of this civic center. Upon completion of the Auditorium he was appointed to the Board of Control and chairman of the present Board.
The DeLamarter reside at 2096 Robinson Road with their children, Jeanne, Marianne and Louis, Jr. Another daughter, Laura, is Mrs. A.G. Ghysels.
Stuart Foote Started With a Dream and Made it Come True
When F. Stuart Foote got his first job in a furniture plant here, it took him only a matter of hours to determine that furniture was to be his career and, furthermore, that in ten years he would have a plant of his own.
Probably a number of other youths have had similar dreams, but few went about it so systematically as did young Foote in making the realization of his dream possible.
Nor did all the other youthful dreamers have the educational background, the analytical ability, the willingness to put in long hours at hard work, plus the organizational and administrative talents and the genius for salesmanship which young Mr. Foote possessed.
Ten years later -- exactly -- Foote did have his own plant. He organized the Imperial Furniture Company and he reversed the usual process in doing so. Hitherto, plants had started in a small way, hoping to expand later. Mr. Footeís Imperial started with a potential million dollar production. Later on that potential, and actual production as well, was increased several times, but thatís getting ahead of this story.
Young Mr. Footeís father, the late E. H. Foote, was a furniture executive and he financed his sonís education. But after that, it was up to the younger Foote. He was strictly on his own.. Senior Foote even declined to hire the boy in the plant of which he was general manager. F. Stuart would have to talk to somebody else. It was a practical lesson in self-reliance that paid dividends later.
The plant in which the senior Foote was an executive was that of the Grand Rapids Chair Company, located "away out" Canal Road (Lower Monroe Ave.) north of the then city limits and far from most of the other furniture plants which had been started. (Penclub Mag. for August, 1951).
Grand Rapids Chair Company was founded by the late C. C. Comstock, the pioneer industrialist and business man. His land holdings north of the city were extensive. At one time he owned acreage on both sides of Grand River for ten miles. He did sell a comparatively small tract at North Park to the State of Michigan as the site for the Michigan Soldiersí Home -- now called Veteransí Facility -- but he was reluctant to dispose of any more.
Comstock had built his chair factory on his own land on the east bank of the river near. Ann Street in 1872. For the first few years it didnít do so well. The plant was operating in the red. Comstock decided that a change in management was necessary. He had heard of E.H. Footeís ability and offered him the position. It carried with it the then munificent salary of $1,200 a year, plus the keep of a horse and buggy for driving between home and plant. In return, Mr. Foote agreed to keep the plantís deficit down to a maximum of $15,000a year.Within a year new methods introduced by Mr. Foote put the Grand Rapids Chair Company on a profitable basis.
When the son, F. Stuart Foote, finished high school he worked in the Chair
Companyís office for two years, starting Sept. 9, 1889. Then he took advantage of the opportunity given him by his parents and enrolled in the engineering school of Purdue University. There he crammed in three years of engineering in two years
and returned home, hoping to return to the Grand Rapids Chair Company. This time he decided he wanted to work in the plant itself to find out what made the wheels turn and the gears mesh; to learn all about production. He didnít care to return to a white collar office job.
But at this point he had strongly impressed upon him the fact that no job would be handed him on a silver platter. Dad Foote told him heíd have to go to work -- and immediately -- but heíd have to see someone other than the Pat about a job.
That young Foote did. Without telling his father he sought out the plant superintendent and made his application personally to him. At first his answer was "no." Business wasnít too good and the superintendent wasnít anxious to have any students during their summer vacation. It was only after young Foote convinced the superintendent that he wanted a permanent job, that he was ambition to learn furniture making from the ground up, that he was given a job. Foote didnít even ask what his wages would be.
The next Monday morning -- July, 1893 -- he began in earnest the career that finds him today -- 60 years later -- President of the Imperial Furniture Company and dean of Grand Rapids furniture manufacturers. Footeís first job at the Grand Rapids Chair Company wasnít a sinecure. Neither was there anything romantic about it. He was put to work unloading a box car of lumber. His "teammate" was an easy going, slow moving colored man. But the job gave the alert neophyte a chance to size up the situation. He was starting at the bottom of the ladder and he estimated there must be 250 different jobs in the plant. He made up his mind he would learn them all and one by one he just about did so during the next decade.
Decision by the superintendent a few years later to take an extensive European vacation resulted in Foote being placed in temporary charge of the plant. A another time he was given temporary charge of the purchasing department. In each job he was able, thanks to his all around knowledge of the plant, to inaugurate methods which eliminated waste increased efficiency and saved money for the company.
Still later he found himself suddenly given the position of traveling salesman calling on dealers over a wide territory. Selling was new to him, but in a short time he was making good. He originated the idea of exclusive dealerships in large cities. This worked out fine for both factory and retailer, and Mr. Footeís reputation as a salesman spread.
Came 1903 and Mr. Foote, true to his original determination, decided that his ten year appprenticeship was over -- that no longer would he work for anyone else.. He was ready to branch out on his own. He enlisted the support and cooperation of Daniel McCoy, president of the Kent State Bank, which made the initial financing easier. When the company organization was completed, Mr. McCoy was made President and Mr. Foote Secretary-Treasurer and General Manager.
"I held the job of General Manager for 45 years until they made me President in 1948," Mr. Foote remarked.
In launching the Imperial, Mr. Foote decided to concentrate on the manufacture of tables -- dining room tables to match buffets, and other dining room pieces made by other Grand Rapids manufactures. None made complete dining room suites. Later, library tables and tables for other rooms in the house were added to the line.
The young manufacture found that despite his ten years of production and sales experience and his knowledge of marketing, it took a lot of hard spade work, with Mr. Foote personally directing the sales effort, to keep the big new plant running profitably. He didnít accomplish it on a 40-hour week, or even on a 60-hour week. It meant early morning until late at night plugging away.
But Mr. Foote did make a success of the venture. The fame of Imperial tables spread to all parts of the country. The name "Imperial" meant that the product was one of high quality -- that the purchaser got value received. Mr. Foote was a stickler for honesty in advertising and was admitted to the organization known as the Rice Leaders of the World. Truthful advertising and fair merchandising were its shibboleth Imperial also affiliated with the Grand Rapids Furniture Makerís Guild, which demands the highest character of product. Mr. Foote has been its vice president since its inception.
"Dealers around the country learned years ago that Grand Rapids furniture, was quality furniture," Mr. Foote declared, "If they liked our design and style they bought, because they knew the materials and workmanship were of the best. If they were looking for furniture that would sell at a price to customers who werenít too discriminating, they looked elsewhere."
Mr. Foote declares that the same situation obtains today.
"We donít need to worry about competition from manufacturers in other centers which sacifice quality for price. Making inferior furniture never was and never will be our field."
"Most cheap furniture is produced in areas where wages and living conditions are far below our standards. We couldnít complete with them if we wanted to."
Mr. Foote concedes that not all furniture made elsewhere is "borax." Some plants are making good products, but rather paradoxically, this competition helps rather than harms Grand Rapids manufacturers. It makes more purchasers quality minded and keeps Grand Rapids manufacturers on their toes.
"When people are in the market for quality furniture they ask for Grand Rapids furniture," Mr. Foote says. "They know the name ĎGrand Rapidsí stamped on a piece of furniture stands for quality. They like to boast to their friends that their house is furnished with genuine Grand Rapids furniture."
Charles G. and Earl M. Johnson - A Two Generation Team In The Furniture World
Father and son combinations arenít unusual in Grand Rapidsí furniture industry. Many such teams have helped account for the cityís preeminent position in the quality field.
Long life isnít unusual in this business, either, whether it be the worker in the shop or the executive in the office. Working in wood contributes to this longevity, "they say."
The subject of our personality profiles this month are an outstanding father-son duo with the father one of the real "deans" of the industry here and the son a man who literally has grown up in furniture.
Quite proudly Penclubbers may point to the father, Carl (Charles) G. Johnson as one of our oldest members and to the son, Earl M. Johnson, as a member of many years standing and also as a club director. The elder Johnson, now, 88, stands No. 10 in our list of long-time members. He first became a Penclubber December 8, 1914. Earl joined us in the 1930ís.
Dad Johnson is one of three brothers who came to Grand Rapids in the late 1880ís from their native Sweden where they had learned their trade as organ makers. The other brothers, both now dead, were Elmer and Axel. Elmer "came over" in 1887 and proceeded to write such glowing accounts of this land of milk and honey his two brothers joined him here the following year--1888.
The three worked at the bench in such famous plants as Berkey and Gay, Grand Rapids Chair and Royal Furniture. In 1903, with a brother-in-law, James Jones, they started a small shop of their own -- the Cabinet Makerís Company, on Grandville Ave. S.W. Five years later they sold out to a firm which moved the business to Sturgis. Then they organized the Johnson Furniture Company.
The Johnsonsí original plant was located at the west end of Pearl Street bridge. By 1913 they found it necessary to expand, so they built their present plant on Godfrey Ave., S.W.
In 1922, Tom Handley, one of the industryís outstanding designers, became associated with the Johnson brothers, and a second company was formed known as the Johnson-Handley-Johnson Company. The plant adjacent to that of the Johnson company, and which formerly had housed the Grand Rapids Piano Case Company, was purchased and the two companies operated side by side.
Tom Handley has been dead since 1925 but the name of Johnson-Handley-Johnson is still used in some billings. All the manufacturing for the two companies, however, is done by the Johnson Furniture Company.
Earl Johnson was born here and graduated from Central High School, got his initiation into the industry by working in the shop during his summer vacations. He took a course in Business Administration at the University of Michigan, a course interrupted by service in the Army during World War I, and was graduated in 1920.
Returning to the plant, he worked in the shop for about ten years, during which time he gained a working knowledge and understanding of the theory and principle of every production operation. After serving as a millroom foreman for a time, Earl graduated into the office. He was made a sort of liaison man between th plant and office, under the supervision of his uncle Axel.
Later he was made Secretary-Treasurer and along about 1945 became Vice President. Robert Lillie is the present secretary, and Penclubber Barry Stuart is Sales Manager.
Dad Johnson continue as President of the company and despite his 88 years, heís at his office every morning while in Grand Rapids during the Winter seasons. The warm weather finds him at his summer home on Black Lake, but he comes into the office at least twice a week. Mr. Johnson is an avid bird hunter and trout fisherman and he also gets plenty of fun out of his cruiser on Black Lake and Lake Michigan.
Earl, like his Dad, enjoys fishing and hunting and likes to get in some golf when time will allow. He is a member of Kent and Blythefield Country Clubs.
A trip through the Johnson showrooms where the finest creations of such noted designers as Renzo Rutili, Paul T. Frankl and John Wisner are displayed, is enough to convince anyone that hereís another firm --another Guild member, by the way -- which is sustaining Grand Rapidsí reputation in the quality field. The firm specializes in bedroom and dining room furniture and also makes occasional, non-upholstered pieces for the living room.
"Furniture buyers have become educated to the fact that here in Grand Rapids we concentrate on the best in high quality furniture," Earl Johnson observes. "Those who can use quality furniture come here; those who canít -- donít."
Charles J. Kindel - A Penclub Member for
If you didnít know otherwise, youíd never think that Charles J. Kindel, founder and still President of the Kindel Furniture Company, retired from business nearly forty years ago. Not if youíd see him at his desk as he is every day at the companyís Garden Street plant.
You see, Mr. Kindel couldnít stand retirement. Too hard work. Besides, he really was too young to have retired in 1915 when he sold out the business that then was known as the Kindel Bed Company.
He had visions of doing a lot of traveling, of devoting himself to his hobbies, to art and sports and relaxation and this he started out to do. He and Mrs. Kindel enjoyed some of the cruises and trips they long had had in mind. He was able to give more time to the David Walcott Kendall Art School. Mr. Kindel served as President of that institution for a time. He had studied design, free hand and mechanical drawing as a young man and art always has held his interest.
World War I came along in 1917 and Mr. Kindel became a member of the Business Menís Battalion, the organization which replaced the National Guard after the younger men had left for overseas. He accepted the post of Field Manager of the West Michigan Civilian branch of the U.S. Ordnance Department -- at a salary of a dollar a year.
He was active in the Red Cross and the National Y.M.C.A. He served as Chairman of the first Army "Y" drive here and also as Chairman of the Special Gifts division in welfare drives.
The work proved exhausting and when Mr. Kindel would return home after concluding a long day -- often a day that stretched well into the evening -- heíd find himself more tired than if he had put in the day at the furniture plan he had sold.
He admits he never was too happy when he was not manufacturing something. Some day, he philosophized, if it were so ordained, heíd find himself back in possession of the plant.
That day came in 1924 after nine years of "retirement" and heís been happily at it ever since.
Mr. Kindel symbolizes the self-educated, self-manufacture. Born in Cincinnati and starting work in a carriage factory at the age of 13, he had the advantages of neither a high school nor a college education. But he went to Denver as a boy of 14 and learned the trade of mattress maker. Always self-reliant ("Donít depend on someone else to do things for you -- youíve got to do them yourself") heíd go to business school after putting in a 10-hour day in the shop. Later he taught bookkeeping and business arithmetic in the same school.
His night school study paid off further when he was promoted to be bookkeeper and plant manager at the shop which employed him. Later he took the course in design.
By the time he was 30 years old, Mr. Kindel was ready to go into business for himself. He had saved his money and took on a partner who had $500 in capital. They negotiated a small loan and soon were in the bedding business with 15 employees.
Mr. Kindel later operated in St. Louis, New York, Toronto and Chicago and by 1912 his business had grown to the point where it was necessary that he seek larger
quarters. An inventive genius, Mr. Kindel had perfected a combination davenport-bed known as the Kindel Parlor Bed. His plant made the metal parts and did the upholstering and finishing of the wood parts, but it was necessary that he have the wooden ends made elsewhere. This fact influenced him to favor Grand Rapids over several other cities which were bidding for his plant. He has never regretted locating here.
"We knew that the real artisans and mechanics of the woodworking industry were here and besides Grand Rapids had another appeal to me," he related. "It was big enough to have many of the advantages of a large city without many of a big cityís serious disadvantages. It was just the right sized town in which to bring up a family."
So Mr. Kindel came here, purchased the site on Garden Street, built the plant and began manufacturing in 1913. Several times earlier in his career competitors had decided Kindel had what they wanted and had bought him out. This accounted for his several move, from city to city, and it is just what happened to the Kindel Bed Company, in 1915. An offer made by an outside concern was so flattering he decided to sell and "retire," with the results already mentioned.
Today Mr. Kindel has with him in the business two sons and a grandson all schooled in the thought that every job should be done a little better than it seems necessary. Son Charles (Chuck) Kindel is Vice President and devotes most of his attention to production; Thomas G. (Tom), the younger son, is the Treasurer and Business Manager. Grandson Charles E. (Ted) specializes in personnel work. Jack Bowen also is a Vice President of the Company.
Mr. Kindel is the type of manufacture who believes in applying the Golden Rule in the plant as well as in his social contacts. Heíd never ask an employee to do anything he wouldnít do himself and, incidentally, he prides himself on the fact that he can do any job in that plant. Maybe not so well now, though, he reflects, as can the man who is doing the job. For years it was his custom to walk through the shop each day and personally greet each employee by name. Having started at the bench he knows and appreciates the workerís viewpoint.
Penclubber Kindel -- he has been a member since 1915 -- can point to
a collection of trophies as evidence he has promoted athletics among the
plan workers. He has taken time to indulge in sports himself, too Heís
proud of the fact that he could beat all comers at deck tennis while
aboard ship, and he used to shoot around 95 when he could give more time
to golf. Today, although past 80-years old, Mr. Kindel has taken up
bowling. Thanks to some expert advice from Champion Marion Ladewig and
to his own native skill and coordination, he has upped his average to
around 145 and he is improving. He goes in for the sport twice weekly
now, at the Fanatorium. One of his partners on the maple ways is John
Martin, Sr. who, like Mr. Kindel, is well past the 80-year old mark.
"C. J." has been a member of the Grand Rapids Rotary Club since 1914. He served as President during 1932 and 1933.
The Kindel Furniture Company concentrates on the manufacture of bedroom and dining room furniture, designed largely along traditional lines, although some Italian and French provincial furniture also is made. Cherry Mr. Kindel impresses upon his sons and grandson that their real heritage is the family name, not the bricks and machinery which comprise the plant. His older brother had started as a quality manufacturer in 1878 and quality has been the Kindel watchword ever since. Quality, he is firmly convinced, will keep for Grand Rapids its position as the Paris of the furniture industry.
"As long as good furniture is made, Grand Rapids will make it," he declares.
Phil Lewis, Zion Cityite - Found the World Round, Then Put Trucks on it
No doubt about it. Horatio Alger must have had future Phil Lewises in mind when he wrote his famous "success" literature a couple of generations ago.
Philís career surely follows the pattern. From hard working farm boy, forced to terminate his formal education after half a year in high school, to head of a business which this year likely will be in the million dollar gross class -- thatís it!
Phil -- heís Philip W. Lewis, President and General Manager of Grand Rapids Motor Express, Inc., when he signs his name and title in formal fashion -- has shown that if a fellow "has got it" and will work like heck, heíll get there.
Things didnít look too bright for the Lewis family when Phil was a youngster. The father was in ill health and there were eight young Lewises to feed. So Dad and Mother Lewis decided to take up farming with the idea that all of the progeny could pitch in and help. And it worked out fine.
The family came to Michigan in 1919 from Zion City, Ill. Thatís the town near Waukegon which was founded by the Scotch cultist, John Alexander Dowie. He called himself Elijah returned to earth, and built up a large following. Dad Lewis, native Englishman, heard Dowie in London and followed him to Zion City. There he met a young lady who had been a nurse in a Chicago Methodist hospital, but who also became a Dowieite. Rather strangely her name was May West -- no kin of the famous "Címon up aní see me sometime" gal, but a lineal descendant of Pocahontas, who also was famous But in another way.Phil recalls that he had spent seven years in school in Zion City, where he was taught the Dowie theory that the earth was flat. Imagine his surprise when he entered the eight grade at the Greenville school and was wised up to the fact that it is round. His trucks have been going Ďround, too.
Dad Lewis -- his name was Peter George Lewis -- became head of the Greenville Cooperative and held this post for several years. This gave the boy, Phil, a chance to learn something about trucking, hauling merchandise for his Dad, when not working on the farm.
After he gave up his schooling and after laboring ten years on the farm, he worked for a couple of years in the Norge plant at Muskegon, but he decided that such work was not for him. He and his brother, James P. Lewis, sold a passenger car they owned, and started in business for themselves, buying and selling potatoes.
Rather sad to relate, however, their venture didnít meet immediately with the copyrighted Horatio Alger success. Within thirty days they were "broke" and the finance company reclaimed their truck. That was in 1933 when times were pretty tough for much more experienced business men than were the Lewis boys.
They werenít discouraged, however, managed to get back their truck and set themselves up as brokers for the L & B Trucking Company, hauling freight from Muskegon to Cleveland. The next year they made a connection with a large trucking firm here as brokers and continued in that capacity until 1944, building up their own equipment to 14 trucks, and operating between Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Toledo and Cleveland.
In that year they had the opportunity to buy control of the Grand Rapids Motor Express, so they sold their other interests and got into this company Grand Rapids Motor Express had been started by the late Walter S. Nixon in 1923 with one or two trucks and had been built up to 19 units by the time the Lewises bought control.
The company was doing a gross business of about $200,000 a year. Last year the total revenue came close to hitting the million dollar mark and 1954, President Lewis anticipates will see the company reaching and passing that figure.
Grand Rapids Motor Express, Inc., now operates 46 units, including refrigeration trucks and the latest type of equipment. It has its main office here, but maintains branch offices in Kalamazoo, Holland and Chicago. It operates as a common carrier of freight on an intrastate basis and employs some hundred persons. Recently the organization built a $250,000 terminal in Cicero, Ill., the Chicago suburb, and from time to time it is expanding its plant.
Phil has been a Penclubber for ten years now and serves on the Activities Committee the group which keeps things lively around he club. For three years he was President of Green Ridge Country Club and still is a member of that clubís board.He also served on the board of the Grand Rapids Lions club for three years and he is a veteran Chamber of Commerce Great Lakes Cruiser. He is past Commander of the cruise Transportation Division, which he served for seven years. The powerful physique he built up by ten years work on the farm, plus his years of piloting trucks is still in evidence. He still likes to ride the surf board and indulge in water skiing at Green Lake, where the family has its cottage and where he spends three months each summer. He operates a fast Chris Craft speed boat. Lewis tries to play golf at least twice a week and generally shoots in the 90ís. He did have 75 to his credit once. He has captained several Lions club championship bowling teams, including last yearís title holders and although heís but a once-week bowler he maintains a respectable 166 average. Lewis doesnít have too much time for fishing, but he does manage to go deer hunting each Fall. He has done so for fourteen years now. His record -- two bucks during that time. But he had a lot of fun, too. Of the large Lewis family, Phil still has three brothers and three sisters living. His brother, James P. still is his partner, holding an equal share with him in Grand Rapids Motor Express, Inc., and serving as Secretary-Treasurer of the company. The parents, who since passed on, both became ordained evangelists after leaving Greenville and did much good work among the prisoners at the Indiana State penitentiary at Michigan City, Indiana. That Bastille once housed the late John Dillinger and if other of its inmates were of his ilk, they could stand having a few evangelists minister to their spiritual wants -- which were many. The other officer and stockholder in the company is Benedict E. Johnson, the vice President. A Chicago man, he is in charge of the Chicago office. Mr. Johnson was with the company when Mr. Nixon founded it in 1928..
"I could still drive a truck if I had to," Phil asserts. "Not too long ago at a truck rodeo I got behind the wheel and negotiated the obstacle course." "And about water skiing. I used to sit in a rocking chair and stand on my head and do a lot of other tricks. I donít do that any more."
Frederick H. Mueller - Spreads Himself Widely But Not To Thin
When you list all the organizations and institutions to which Frederick H. Mueller contributes his time and abilities you canít escape a definite conclusion. That is, that he has not only an abiding faith in the Grand Rapids furniture industry, but in the city of Grand Rapids as the leading producer of fine furniture.
When you hear him state with strongest conviction that Grand Rapids is the Paris of furniture style and design and that it is incumbent upon the leaders in the industry here to strive ever to maintain this position, you know it comes from the heart as well as the head.
Mr. Muellerís principal position is General Manager of the Mueller Furniture Company, of which he is a partner. He has literally lived with the company since he was a lad in school. And while playing a leading role in directing affairs of this company for many years, he has managed to serve in many extra-curricular capacities.
He has been President of the Grand Rapids Furniture Manufacturersí Association (1932-1933); he was one of the organizers of and was the first President of the Grand Rapids Furniture Makersí Guild, serving in that office from 1932 until 1942. World War II then saw him help organize 15 Grand Rapids furniture companies into the corporation known as Grand Rapids Industries, Inc., for the purpose of turning out war production. He was made President and General Manager of that corporation and devoted full time to the work.
Grand Rapids Industries, Inc., with the pooled facilities of the 15 plants, made wings for the CG 4A gliders which transported paratroopers into Normandy and elsewhere and also made wings and tail services for the L-5 Stinson plane -- among other products. Remarkably, the plants managed to squeeze out a small amount of furniture production while engaged in this war work.
During the period when he was heading the Grand Rapids Furniture Makersí Guild, Mr. Mueller also served a year (1935-36) as President of the National Association of Furniture Manufacturers. Likewise, he directed the affairs of the Grand Rapids Association of Commerce for a year as President of that organization.
Today he is a director of both the Grand Rapids Furniture Manufacturersí Association and the Grand Rapids Furniture Makerís Guild, as well as being President of the Furniture Mutual Insurance company, a Director of the Peopleís National Bank, President of the United Hospital Fund, President of the Butterworth Hospital board and, as all Penclubbers know, Vice-President of our own club.
He is a Past President of the Grand Rapids Rotary Club and a Past District Governor of the West Michigan area.
Interested in educational as well as industrial and civic matters, Mr. Mueller is one of the six members of the Michigan State Board of Agriculture, the governing board of Michigan State College -- his Alma Mater. (Need we add that he and Mrs. Mueller are in California at this time to view the Rose Bowl game?).
Mueller literally grew into the furniture business. He fairly haunted the plant during his school days. Thatís where he spent his Summer vacations. He graduated in engineering from Michigan State in 1914 and began to give full time to the plant and since then he has been through all phases of the business -- production, sales, general administration, etc.
The Mueller Company was started in 1892 by his father, the late J. Frederick Mueller, founder of the Mueller dynasty which will continue for many years. The grandson of the founder, Frederick E. Mueller, (son of Frederick H.) now is assistant general manager. Like his father and grandfather he, too, is devoting himself assiduously to the business. He served in World War II as a bomber pilot; his father, Frederick H. is a private pilot and has been active in civil aeronautics.
Frederick H. Mueller, with Mrs. Mueller, spent three months last Spring and early Summer on a trip abroad which took them into France, Spain, Greece, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and other countries. As a good Rotarian he made it a point to attend Rotary club meetings when possible and he noted that wherever he was introduced as being from Grand Rapids, Rotarian immediately associated Grand Rapids with furniture industry.
While he naturally was pleased with this reaction, Mueller believes it should serve to impress upon Grand Rapids furniture manufacturers the reasonability they have for enhancing this heritage which they received from the pioneer manufacturer who preceded them here. That heritage is this cityís reputation for fine furniture.
The furniture industry here definitely can continue to advance its leadership in style, design and quality, Mueller believes, and thus retain the position it has held for three generations. If Grand Rapids continues to do this, this city always will be able to attract the best dealers and decorators to the Grand Rapids Furniture Market.
Other manufacturing centers may produce more furniture, but they all are envious of the position Grand Rapids holds in its acknowledged style and quality leadership, he observes.
And being a very realistic individual Mueller emphasizes that Grand Rapids manufacturers cannot retain this position by resting on their laurels. They must constantly improve their products.
A Penclubber since the early 1920ís and a Director for several years, Mr. Mueller has been a "regular" all of the time. He and his family make use of and enjoy our facilities throughout the year.
Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 29 May 2009 and other dates