Mike Lude is 96 Years Old and Still Going Strong!

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Steve Holton on the left brought Mike Lude to Vicksburg to meet old friends and tell tales about their years as athletic directors in major universities across the United States.

By Sue Moore

Milo (Mike) Lude left Vicksburg after graduation from high school in 1940 for Hillsdale College to play football and maybe amount to something, he said. The person who urged him to try for college was his high school coach and mentor, Clayton (Whitey) Linton. He leveled with Lude: You are not big enough, not fast enough and you are not good enough.

Lude had spent his growing up years on a farm near Fulton with no running water, no central heat, no plumbing and kerosene lanterns for light until 1935 when rural electrification came along. Now at age 96, he has lived all over the nation as an assistant football coach, a head coach, an athletic director and consultant.

He didn’t start out with those kinds of goals. He attended a one-room school near Fulton until high school. He moved into Vicksburg to live with his grandparents five days of the week and then home on weekends to help milk cows and plow 260 acres of hills and stones, all with horses, on the weekends. He thought every boy wore bib overalls, he recalled. His dad wanted him to play football and it turns out, he was pretty good at it as a 179 lb. lineman. Whitey had just graduated from Hillsdale College and advised Lude to go there. “I owe my career and my life to Linton,” Lude said.

The Marine Corps came calling before Lude could finish college. Upon his return after the war, Lude went back to Hillsdale. He was getting marginal grades in his early years at Hillsdale when his history prof interceded: “you are in trouble academically,” he told Lude. “I’m going to help by tutoring you.”

He majored in biology because it was an easy class for him his freshman year. “At Vicksburg, I just got by with a good attitude and my smile. I was in Mabel Hawkins’ drama classes for four years because she liked me,” Lude said with a chuckle as he acknowledged that “other people can do a lot more for you than you can for yourself all along the way.”

Lude’s greatest accomplishment, he believes, was hiring Don James to coach football at Kent State and then at the University of Washington (UW) – he served as athletic director at each school. With James at UW as head coach, they went to the Rose Bowl in 1978 and beat the University of Michigan 27-20. Lude was named National Athletic Director of the Year in 1988. “My strong suit was probably selling my ideas with enthusiasm. After that first big win it was like the launching pad that rocketed UW into outer space. We were able to put an upper deck on the north side of the football stadium. Without that, the stands looked like a one-winged seagull,” Lude said.

Three more Rose Bowl appearances and 13 total bowl appearances ensued under the James and Lude era from 1977 to 1990. Lude was forced to retire by University’s president. James lasted one more year and quit when one of his athletes was accused of getting paid for summer work.

Lude soon was hired as the athletic director at Auburn University for two years where he hired Terry Bowden as the head coach. He retired from there to take private consulting jobs and settle in Tucson, Arizona where he played a lot of golf and found time for his wife Rena and daughters Cynthia, Janann and Jill.

Lude had a five-year run as athletic director at Kent State just after the National Guard shooting on campus from 1970 to 1775 before the 18 years at UW. This is where he first recruited Don James to head the football program. It was James who then recommended his old boss for the AD position at Washington. Their friendship lasted for their 20 years together and after that until James passed away in 2013. During that time, James would tell his staff “not to mess around with the guy in the corner office because he and I will take care of things.” When Lude went to UW, the athletic program was $400,000 in debt. When he left the program, it had an $18 million surplus. “The secret is I tried to get everything I could for my coaches to be successful. The job of an AD today is asset acquisitions,” Lude said. “The salaries coaches and ADs are getting today are immoral.”

Not everything Lude touched turned out perfectly. His stint at Colorado State University as the head football coach from 1962-1969 only saw one winning season. Previous to that he had been the assistant football coach at the University of Delaware and before that at the University of Maine.

During Lude’s many years of moving around the country, he met Steve Holton, now living in Vicksburg, who was with the University of Houston. Steve along with Perk Weisenburger marketed the moniker “Phi Slama Jama” for the school’s basketball team. Houston went to the NCAA Final Four tournament in 1982/83/84. Holton’s wife is the former Judi Pacukewicz of Vicksburg. They too moved about, from Houston, to Cal State Long Beach to the University of Northern Arizona where Holton was the athletic director and brought in Lude as a consultant. Upon Holton’s retirement from the University of California at Berkeley he and Judi moved to Barton Lake where her parents lived. Keeping in touch with Lude throughout the years, Steve engineered a reunion for Lude. Several of Lude’s athletic director friends, including Perk Weisenburger, who is now AD at Ferris State, gathered over the 4th of July week in Vicksburg.

Lude co-authored a book, “Walking the Line” about his life in sports. It has 85 testimonials in it from guys and gals who helped him or whom he helped along the way. The introduction was written by sports broadcaster Keith Jackson 10 years ago.

Vicksburg Girl Scouts Tour Ireland

Standing from left to right: Aubrey Richardson, Mindy Reno (behind); Kalin Goodwin; Leeanna Wagner, Ady Reno (behind); Windee Wagner; Kristin Woosley (behind); Katelyn Woosley (behind); Kimberly Richardson.

By Sue Moore

Vicksburg’s Girl Scout Troop just returned from a nine-day trip to Ireland. The scouts saved and planned for five years and worked hard to make this trip happen, said Windee Wagner, the troop’s co-leader with Penny Gettle, who was unable to go along. Five scouts and four moms went. The girls will be seniors this fall at Vicksburg High School.

They were amazed at how young our country is when they visited pre-historic sites, Wagner commented. They did the typical tourist things but saw how much history there is in the bigger world they traveled in. Their research included the money exchange and conversion fees. It was the first airplane flight for most of them and going through customs was a new experience as well.

They are all working to achieve their Gold Award, the equivalent of an Eagle Scout award for boys. The girls have until they turn 18 to finish a special project that is tied to the award. Their fundraising experience is a big part of the learning curve for the troop members. “We tried whatever we thought could earn money. Some were successful and some were not,” Wagner said.

Most of the girls earned enough money to pay for half of the trip costs through the fundraising experience. The rest they had to contribute from their own finances. They are all heavily involved in extra-curricular activities in school as well, Wagner pointed out. One girl plays soccer, three are in choir and three are in band. Two of the troop members were unable to go on the trip.

They researched the country they wanted to visit, narrowing down the choices to France or Ireland with the parents getting one vote apiece. Ireland won on a split vote. As it turned out, Ireland was having a heat wave and it was very dry in the cities and countryside. “It turned out that the girls didn’t use their phones as much as when they are home, using them mostly to take pictures,” Wagner said.

Charlie Glaes Recognized by Vicksburg Rotary Club

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Charlie and Janet Glaes.

By Sue Moore

Charlie Glaes was recognized by the Vicksburg Rotary Club for his long dedication and work with the Rotary Showboat. He started years ago, singing in the chorus, being part of great skits and a very popular featured soloist. Also, he was touted for his activities working with the club in many roles dealing with kids.

He was also recognized for his longtime commitment to the community as an education leader, dedicating his career to Vicksburg Schools from suspension room supervisor, elementary principal, middle school principal, assistant superintendent for curriculum to the last 14 years as superintendent. “It wasn’t a matter of performing his job, he gave it 120% and never lost sight of what was good for kids,” said Skip Knowles as he presented the award to Glaes. “He was involved in many venues supporting our schools and the education of our kids.”

The Paul Harris award is highest a Rotarian can receive. It is given annually to a member who best exemplifies the ideas of Rotary, “Service Above Self,” who has given outstanding service to Rotary and the community at large. Harris was the founder of Rotary in Chicago in 1905. The service organization has a membership of 1.2 million in 33,000 clubs in 200 countries worldwide.

Popular History Walks Will Take Place in Vicksburg

By Sue Moore

The Gazelle Sports Historic Walk is coming back to Vicksburg at 8 a.m. Friday morning Aug. 3 in front of the Vicksburg District Library. The public is invited to Join Gazelle Sports and Lynn Houghton for another exciting time of a historical walking tour around the Vicksburg downtown and residential area.

Houghton is the Regional History Curator for the Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections and co-author of “Kalamazoo Lost & Found.” She conducted a similar tour in the summer of 2016 when it rained throughout and still the 20 or more assembled visitors stuck with the tour. The walks take place rain or shine unless severe weather is forecast, she said.

The route will be the same one she conducted in 2016. Houghton uses a microphone so everyone can hear her describe the architectural highlights of each building and its history. This tour will go from 8 to 9:30 a.m. “I’m hoping some who attend will take advantage and maybe go to the coffee shop afterwards or stick around to visit the library,” Houghton said, noting that many of the visitors are from out of town.

Historical Society Program About One Room Schools

By Mike Hill

What was it really like to attend a one-room school? Find out in Vicksburg Aug. 21.

A few years ago, the Michigan One Room Schoolhouse Association asked one of its board members, Warren Lawrence, to develop a light-hearted program dealing with education in a one-room school. The board felt that such a program could be given at the organization`s annual state conference. Lawrence accepted the challenge. He entitled the program, “What We Really Learned When We Attended a One Room School!”

He will present it at the Vicksburg Community Center at 7 p.m. Aug. 21 as part of the Vicksburg Historical Society’s series.

Lawrence said education in a one-room school has been romanticized over the years. Many folks believe that all that students did was spend most of their academic day concentrating on the three R’s, reading, writing and ‘rithmetic, and little else. Based on Lawrence`s experiences as a student and his research as an adult, he found that former rural students were involved with much more during the day then mundane, academic recitation.

In the Aug. 21 program, Lawrence will enlighten the audience with his tongue-in-check findings about our nation’s noble, one-room schools. Lawrence said based on past experience there usually will be one or two in the audience that with an unusual tale to tell about an interesting, educational experience in one of the nation`s rural schools. Lawrence designed the program to be both fun and educational at the same time. The public is encouraged to attend.

Triptychs of the Historic Mill Made by WMU Grad Student

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Alicia Risk with pictures of her photo montage triptychs that she created for Mill tours. Photo by Jef Rietsma.

By Jef Rietsma

The task of redeveloping the former Simpson Paper Company has involved input from a spectrum of people representing many different backgrounds.

An unlikely but beneficial source proved to be a 22-year-old Western Michigan University (WMU) student whose contribution netted her college credit. Alicia Risk, a Hastings native, was held in high regard by a professor who supervises her area of study: theater design and technical production with an emphasis on costume design.

Her goal is to study costume history to become a fashion historian.

How does fashion history tie in with the long-abandoned mill?

“My supervising professor frequently gets emails from people looking for a student’s help with a project of some sort in exchange for history credits,” she said. The professor received an email from two Paper City representatives “asking for some help. There was a historical component to it, and that’s how I became involved.”

It was project manager Jackie Koney and John Kern, community outreach manager, who had contacted Risk’s professor back in early 2017.

Risk would go on to work for Koney and Kern over the summer of 2017, eventually creating several triptychs. Risk explained a triptych is a three-panel visual that, in this case, shows photos of the mill in its past and present states. Its future is presented with computer-aided artist renderings. The three visuals are shown from roughly the same perspective.

With an abundance of photos available through the Vicksburg Historical Society, Risk was able to visualize more of the mill in its past state and learn an intriguing history lesson as well.

“I fell in love with the building the first time I came to the property. It was April 2017, and I knew right away I wanted to be a part of this project,” she said. “So, I immersed myself in it. I spent all sorts of time at the Historical Society and looked at hundreds of photographs. It’s an absolutely magnificent building with such a rich history in Vicksburg.”

The triptychs Risk created have been integral when mill officials meet with parties interested in touring the former plant or during formal presentations. Risk didn’t stop with the art work. Earlier this year, she developed a script that helps people who lead tours of the site.

Risk estimates she has invested more than 200 hours into her mill-related work and for her persistence, she received three credits as she pursues her master’s degree. She would like to do some sort of audio-video project that involves interviewing people who are or were affiliated with the mill.

“Anybody who takes the time to learn more about the history of the mill is just as impressed about it as I am.I mean, I didn’t grow up here and I knew nothing about it until two years ago,” she said. “Now, I feel like I have gained so much, I’m a better person for knowing as much as I do about the mill and I can’t wait to see the mill in its next life.”

Library Activities Keep Kids Reading During the Summer

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Nolan Showan, 4, plays during Story Time at the Vicksburg District Library.

By Adrianne Schinkai, Head of Reference and Circulation for Vicksburg District Library

Every summer, public libraries gear up for an influx of school age patrons. The Vicksburg District Library is no different. The library hosted the Summer Reading Program once again, inviting participants from toddler to 12th grade to read books in exchange for a variety of prizes. Prizes this year included free pizza vouchers from Pizza Hut, earbud headphones, and large prize baskets raffled off to those who met all reading requirements.

The library has also been host to a number of events for its younger patrons, spanning all interests and ages.

On July 12th, grade school Summer Reading participants got to enjoy the sun during the Color Run on the ground of Sunset Lake Elementary. Volunteers tossed colored powder into the air while over 100 participants ran around the school track. White shirts were covered with colorful swirls. Popsicles were passed out at the end of the event to rainbow grins.

Youth Services Librarian Stephanie Willoughby plays host to youth events year-round. “The Summer Reading Program is a fun way to include reading and related activities in summer family time,” says Willoughby. “It helps children maintain and improve reading skills. Kids get to see each other at our programs and continue to build relationships and friendships. Children can be great encouragers of reading when they talk to the friends about their favorite books and make those recommendations.”

Story Time is always popular for toddlers. Books are read by Willoughby, songs are sung, and play time is abundant. A themed craft is also included. Nolan Showan, 4, says “they play a lot and that’s my favorite thing!” Showan then excitedly declares to his grandmother and Willoughby that this makes him ready for kindergarten in the fall of 2019. Amanda Dabideen, mother of Brandon, 4, has been bringing him to Story Time since he was eight months old. “It’s time for them to be social and still learn without feeling like they’re learning. They just get to listen and play and sing, and just have a good time.”

Throughout the summer, free movies have been shown in the lower level of the library for teen patrons, including the fan favorite, Black Panther. Most events include a treat of some kind. “I want to connect with kids and teens on their level and for many of them video games and movies are more attractive activities than just crafts and books,” says Willoughby. “When the teens are playing games, you get an opportunity to talk with them and for them to open up to you.”

Along with reading, the library also becomes a haven for kid gamers. A daily convoy of tweens and teens come to utilize computers and internet in order to participate in their favorite games. Current favorites are Roblox and Fortnite. This all takes place in front of the circulation desk, where the computers are located.

“Teens who never stopped in during the school year are checking out what we have to offer,” Willoughby adds. “Our library is a community center for all of Vicksburg.”