Morenci alumni to be honored 2013.04.03

Written by David Green.

Four Morenci graduates will be honored April 13 at the 11th annual Morenci Education Foundation dinner and auction.

In addition to the four alumni, the Morenci Fire Department members will be honored as special guests at the dinner.

One graduate from the 1950s will be honored this year along with three from the 1960s.

Gilbert E. Henry

Class of 1956

Gil grew up helping his father, the owner of the Morenci Hatchery and Feed store. He participated in band, chorus, track, baseball and football. He was awarded an athletic scholarship to attend Olivet College and played on their football team for two years before suffering an injury.

After working at various jobs, Gil was hired in 1962 the by John Abraham realty company  where he specialized in marketing farm properties. In 1974 Gil founded his own real estate firm.

Gil credits the Morenci Congregational Church as having a life-long impact on his life, especially his first Sunday School teacher, Mary Blanchard.  

Paul R. Fish

Class of 1961

Paul Fish was a member of the Morenci High School debate team. He recalls Mr. Pavlos sparking his interest in the intersection of science and society.

Paul first attended Adrian College and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in political science/philosophy. He later earned a master's degree and a doctorate in anthropology at Arizona State University.

Paul worked as the senior archeologist at the Museum of Northern Arizona from 1972 to 1976. He was the assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Georgia from 1976 to 1979. From 1979 to the present he has served as curator of the Arizona State Museum and a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arizona.

Paul has written numerous articles and publications about the diverse cultural heritage and indigenous groups of Arizona and frequently makes presentations at schools, community groups and governmental agencies.

He and his wife, Suzanne, are the parents of two children and they live in Tucson.

Ron Merillat

Class of 1963

Ron was a member of the FFA and National Honor Society and served as president of his senior class.

He graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and later earned a master's degree in educational administration from MSU in 1970 and a master's in mathematics from Florida State University in 1971.

Ron first taught school in Dansville, then served as principal of Gorham Fayette High School from 1971 to 1974. He then taught in Blissfield before returning home to Morenci in 1979 to serve as middle school principal through 1995. Ron finished his long career in education by serving as the superintendent of the Waldron Area Schools from 1995 to 1997.

Ron and his wife, Susan (McCaskey), are the parents of three children: Scott, Kimberly Mossing and Jennifer Gould.

Ron has been a lifelong member of the Fayette Christian Church and enjoys doing any kind of maintenance work needed at the church.

Renée (Allen) Schroeder

Class of 1969

Renée participated in high school plays, served as a tutor, and worked on the Revista staff. 

After graduation she attended Cleary University and majored in business. She later attended Siena Heights University and majored in business and psychology.

Renée worked as a paralegal for a local attorney for many years. She was hired to serve as city clerk for Morenci in 1987 and was eventually named the city administrator/clerk.

She and her husband, Doug, have one son, Trent.

Renée is involved with the Morenci Garden Club, Kiwanis Club, Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce, Morenci Downtown Development Authority, and the Lenawee Economic Development Corp.

She enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, gardening, scrapbooking, reading, volunteering for community events, attending a good rock concert and traveling.

Morenci Education Foundation president Bill Van Valkenburg is expecting the biggest crowd yet for this year's dinner and auction, but at this time, donations of auction items are falling behind. Anyone with items or certificates for goods or services should take them to United Bank and Trust.

Dinner reservations can be made through Monday, April 8.

FIRE DEPT—It’s easy to take the service provided by the Morenci Fire Department for granted, said Morenci Education Foundation president Bill Van Valkenburg. That’s what led foundation board members to choose the fire department members as the honored guests at this year’s dinner, in addition to the Distinguished Alumni.

“I feel this is a wonderful way for the community to show its appreciation and support for our local firefighters,” Van Valkenburg said. “They are available morning, noon, and night, on weekends and holidays, in good weather and bad.  “

Van Valkenburg noted that some members have been active with the department for more than 30 years. 

For the first century and a half of the “hook and ladder company’s” existence, Van Valkenburg said, there wasn’t much required of a volunteer other than showing up and getting to work fighting a blaze. State law now requires more than 260 hours of basic training, with much additional training to follow.

“Very seldom do we as a community thank the members of our Morenci Fire Department for all their dedication and service,” he said, “but we have the opportunity to do that April 13.”

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