Over 100 People Attend Menekaunee Alumni Picnic | New
MENEKAUNEE — The 42nd Menekaunee Alumni Picnic took place on Saturday, a beautiful summer day, at noon at the closed lodge in Red Arrow Park for anyone 50 years of age or older with ties to Menekaunee. There were 123 Menekauneeans who pre-registered, with another 14 walk-in.
Registration ladies Vicki Malmstadt Guay, Sue Rye Lund and Cindy Miller Mudrak presented badges. The cheerleaders who opened the event to the cheers of Menekaunee were: Coordinator Sharon Brix Powilaites, Sandy Thompson Williams, JoAnn LaFond McGee, Jean Fischer Rizzo, Judy Brix Williams, Barb VanHemelryk Scheffen, Judy Fischer Uecke and Joan Fifarek .
Powilaites welcomed attendees and introduced Salvation Army Captain Joshua Stansbury, who explained how they have adjusted to serve during COVID. A prayer has been said for the Menekauneeans who have passed since the last gathering: Sandy Olson Saunier, Jerry Johnson, Darlene LaCombe DeCamp, Sarianne Vavrunek Parrish, Herman Fischer, Wes LaFever, Charlie Nylund, Mary Singer, Jim McVane, Bob Rye, Jim Derusha, and Wayne “Butch” Williams. He followed up with the dinner invocation.
The meal prepared by Jack’s Fresh Market consisted of fried chicken, meatballs, potato salad, creamy coleslaw, baked beans, mixed fresh fruit, wheat buns, pickles and of assorted cookies. The kitchen helpers were Judy Brix Williams, Karen Thornton Bookter, Marilyn Knopp, Evie Knopp Hilton and Jean Dill. The leftover food was taken to the Salvation Army.
After lunch, Mayor Steve Genisot and Alderman of the First Ward Ken Keller recognized the five nonagenarians (90 years and over): Pearl Litts Forte 98; Stuart Mudrak 94; Ham from Mavis Malmstadt 93; Marge Larson Williams 92; and Al Rasmussen 90. They were given a pink bodice or blue boutonniere.
Five people were recognized as having traveled the furthest: Rich and Deb Miller, 2,176 miles from Lincoln, California; Tony Johnson, 1,138 miles from Yorktown, Virginia; and special guests Nancy Kaufman and Bob Meissner, 974 miles from Silver Spring, Maryland. Genisot gave them a Marinette-Expanding Horizons tote bag with promotional materials and a festively wrapped porcelain coffee mug, hand sanitizer, pin, pen and candy.
A special “I Love Menekaunee” recognition pin was presented to Stuart Mudrak for his community service. He regularly collects garbage at Red Arrow Park, Menekaunee Heritage Park, Menekaunee Harbor Park and Stephenson Island. He has been doing this since returning to Marinette in 2017 from Germany where he lived for over 50 years.
Genisot thanked Powilaites for their hard work and dedication in coordinating the Menekaunee Alumni Picnic since 2010.
Powilaites introduced Nancy Kaufman, famous guest from her hometown, author of the book “The Girl From Menekaunee” and her partner / editor Bob Meissner. The two opened up about their connection to Menekaunee. Nancy sold the books she brought and signed books that were previously purchased through Amazon.
T-shirts were sold by Judy Berge Reid to help lower the cost of the picnic for next year. An exhibit table included financial reports and photo booklets. Karen Thornton Bookter offered a 50/50 raffle which was won by Tony Johnson.
Volunteers are needed and appreciated to effectively manage this event. John Powilaites and Jeff Swanson took care of setting up the tables and chairs. Many hands were involved in the dismantling and Steve Enstrom took care of cleaning the floor.
Menekaunee means “where the lodges are”, “the village”. It is located at the mouth of the Menominee River on the east side of Marinettte and was founded as a village in 1856 by the New York Lumber Company.
Next year’s picnic will take place on July 30, 2022.