Deb Christiansen and Harriett Swartz have been named Citizens of the Year by the Schoolcraft Village Council. It’s a posthumous award for Swartz, who died last year.
The award is presented annually to individuals who have performed outstanding service or made exceptional voluntary contributions to the community. The first person to be honored was Marilyn Jones, who received the award last year for her poetry and other writing about Schoolcraft.
Christiansen will be honored by appearing in the village’s annual 4th of July parade.
When selecting recipients for this award, the award committee looks for individuals who lend leadership and vision, organize or assist in achieving organizational goals, who serve on service or school committees and youth programs lending expertise and guidance voluntarily. The recipient will have performed voluntary services that have advanced or helped the quality of life in the Village of Schoolcraft.
Schoolcraft lost a true pioneer and iconic spirit with Harriett Swartz’s passing last year. She was a beacon of light in the community with a friendly smile for everyone. Her knowledge of Schoolcraft and its history was unsurpassed. She was the daughter of Mary Jane Swartz who wrote, So I’m Told: The Nineteenth Century in Schoolcraft, Michigan. Harriett herself went on to write several delightful books on Schoolcraft with photographer Elizabeth Hamilton including The Porches of Schoolcraft, Kitchens of Schoolcraft, and So We See. An educator for 41 years at the Milwood Elementary School, Harriett will be remembered as an educator of the highest esteem for those eager to learn about Schoolcraft’s illustrious past. Nancy Rafferty, Harriett’s sister, will be accepting this award on her behalf.
Deb Christiansen is a 30-year resident of Schoolcraft who, after graduating three daughters from Schoolcraft High School, turned her attention to spearheading events in Schoolcraft to bring awareness to the history and charm of the Village. She has chaired several historical home tours and a hauntingly historical cemetery tour. Proceeds benefitted three Schoolcraft organizations: Schoolcraft Community Library, the Ladies Library of Schoolcraft and the Schoolcraft Historical Society. She published the book, This Beautiful Prairie, based on these tours. The title of this book, she says, came from an article about the Schoolcraft United Methodist Church in the Schoolcraft Express dated March 11, 1920. For the last two years she has co-chaired the Christmas Walk with her friend, Kelly Bergland. Deb founded and runs the local Tournament of Writers, which attracts many entries on Schoolcraft history. She then collects all the winning entries and publishes them in the Small Town Anthology series.