KETTUNEN CENTER CARETAKERS SOCIETY GROWS ENDOWMENT
From Vantage, Fall 2015
Kettunen Center received new endowment investments this year with the launch of the Kettunen Center Caretakers Society to grow the Kettunen Center Endowment Fund.
Founding Kettunen Center Caretakers Society membership gifts were received from the estate of George and Victoria Rock, Rodney and Mary Bellows, and jointly from Ingrid Thacker and her nephew, Brian Thacker, in memory of her husband, Francis, and his father, Tom Thacker. Members receive a special silver leaf on the Kettunen Center Giving Tree.
George and Vicki Rock, of Cadillac, were long-time supporters and friends of 4-H and Kettunen Center. In 2006, they established the John F. and Andrea E. Grix Endowment for Kettunen Center to provide annual support for Kettunen Center operations and educational programs and to honor and recognize John and Andrea Grix, Kettunen Center director and educational program coordinator, respectively. Vicki passed away in December 2013, and George passed just two months later, in February 2014. They remembered Kettunen Center with an estate gift, a gift that will leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
Victoria worked 21 years for the Midland school system and helped raise their three children. George, an Osceola County 4-H alumnus and Michigan State University graduate, worked 40 years for Dow Chemical Co., serving his last 15 years as business executive. After retiring, he became a venture capitalist partnering with MSU in technology. He was a member of the Rotary Clubs of both Midland and Cadillac for 30 years. Additionally, he was a founding contributor to the Mercy Hospital Endowment Fund and a co-founder of the Cadillac Area Land Conservancy, and he helped create the Cadillac Area Community Foundation Endowment.
Rodney and Mary Bellows chose to honor their 4-H involvement through a gift to the Kettunen Center Caretaker’s Society. Mary and her sister were 4-H members and received 4-H scholarships allowing them to attend Michigan State University. Upon graduation, Mary pursued a career in both MSU Extension 4-H and teaching, and her sister had a career in teaching. Rodney is a retired optometrist who had a practice in Cadillac, where he and Mary raised their two children and now are proud grandparents. He served as a 4-H volunteer in Wexford County, with special interest in geocaching.
Ingrid Thacker, of LeRoy, wished to honor her late husband, Francis Thomas, and his 4-H involvement with a special gift. Brian Thacker chose to also honor his father, Thomas Thacker, though this joint gift to Kettunen Center. The brothers, Francis and Thomas, grew up in 4-H together and took great pride in their 4-H achievements. Francis went on to manage the family farm and was very involved with community affairs. He served as the LeRoy Township supervisor and 25 years as an Osceola County commissioner. Additionally, he served 26 years on the Lake Osceola Soil Conservation District and over 20 years as a member of the LeRoy Historical Society. He was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church in LeRoy until his passing in July 2014.
Thomas Thacker graduated from MSU and taught high school agriculture for two years at East Jordan, Michigan, where he remained active in 4-H until he was called to active duty in the Army Air Force. Following his service in WWII, Col. Thacker held various assignments worldwide, including the first professor of air science at the Michigan College of Mining and Technology, Houghton, Michigan, and logistics jobs at the Pentagon, among others. He retired from active duty in 1968 and became a real estate broker in Fairborn, Ohio, until 2000. He was president and founding member of Dawson Realty Inc., and served on the Greene County Board of Realtors. He was an adult leader and supporter of the Boy Scout program for over 60 years and a proud volunteer at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force for many years until his death in September 2012.
Growing the endowment for Kettunen Center is a priority of the Campaign for Michigan 4-H’s Future. As of Oct. 31, 2015, $70,110 has been raised — 14 percent of the $500,000 Kettunen Center Endowment goal.