By Sue Moore
Nominations came flowing into the Schoolcraft village office for Citizen of the Year, a new award established by the Village Council. Two people were tied in the estimate of the committee reviewing the qualifications. It decided to give the award to both Marilyn Jones and Deb Reynolds.
They will be honored by riding in the Schoolcraft 4th of July parade and praised for their volunteer work for the community. The two have been employees of Kalamazoo County State Bank (KCSB) and have been friends for more than 40 years.
Jones hasn’t slowed down one bit since turning 92 this year, said Deb Christiansen in her letter of support. Jones was also nominated by Library Director Faye VanRavenswaay, who wrote: “Marilyn is an active supporter and local author who happily shares her love of books and writing with the community. Most recently she has been reading her original poems to 2nd and 3rd grade Schoolcraft students and has submitted her work to the Tournament of Writers (which Christiansen instituted) the last four years of its inception and won a prize each time.”
Jones contributes her written work in selected readings, much of it with a sense of humor, wherever she goes, especially to the six clubs she attends monthly. She is always writing poetry and has won many awards. She has written three books. The first, in 2000, is titled “One Lump … Or Two.” She wrote the second, “Tea Time Again … Have Another Lump” in 2013. She was hospitalized with broken bones from a fall. “I laid there thinking about all of my poems and asked my granddaughter, Angel, to help me put them together in a book. She said ‘No, just wait until you come home and I will help you.’” The third, published in 2017, is “Are You Ready?”
In Jones’ earlier years of giving back to the community she was active as a band parent for her five children. Son Ken is a percussionist for the Kalamazoo Symphony and a music director in the Kalamazoo schools. While working at the bank, she volunteered to co-ordinate the three-week visit of two visiting Russian bankers. “They left Schoolcraft with admiration for our way of life and the capitalist system,” Jones said. For five years she wrote the KCSB newsletter. She also taught “Project Business” to Schoolcraft 8th graders. “Many students remarked that it was their favorite class,” Jones said.
She spent several years as a court appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children in Kalamazoo County. She also adjudicated Remynse scholarship applications for the Kalamazoo Foundation.
VanRavenswaay concluded her nomination by lauding Jones: “Marilyn is a jewel in the community, sharing her gift as a poet and helping to spread the word that writing is a pursuit for everyone to enjoy.”