Editor’s Note: This column ran when Fred Alkire was selected as the Manistee County Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 2006. He joined his sweetheart, Joyce, on Feb. 14, 2012.
A lifetime of service – an example to his family, the Bear Lake community and to all who have stood with him during his work, military career and public service of over 50 years.
Fred was born at a very young age on the Plains of Pleasanton at his family home on Cermak Road.
To feed his desire for education, he attended the one room school in Pleasanton. There were four kids in his class.
By his second grade, that little country school consolidated with the big city school and he moved to Bear Lake. Class size was 20. It was a bit of a culture shock, but Fred adapted. That year he met his future wife. She was in kindergarten and he was an upperclassman second grader.
Fred’s first job while still in high school was as a clerk at the A & P Store in downtown Bear Lake. He graduated from high school in 1950 and worked a while in the pulp logging business. Knowing that he probably was going to need a more steady source of income, as he planned to marry that cute little girl he met in kindergarten, he went to work at Continental Motors in Muskegon at their military plant where he helped build tanks. Fred enlisted in the National Guard in 1951.
Fred and Joyce were married in May, 1953. He was laid off in October, 1953. They came back to Bear Lake where he went back to pulp logging and became a part time school bus driver and part time mail carrier. Bus driving and the Post Office job years later became fulltime positions.
Now, he’s cutting logs, delivering mail, driving bus and fulfilling his National Guard duties. It would seem the guy was never home. Fred and Joyce have six children, 14 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren and 1 grand-cat. ( and I think I’ve been busy!)
In addition to the above, Fred became Scoutmaster of Bear Lake Troop 106 in 1967 and was elected Pleasanton Township Supervisor in 1970 – both positions he still holds. He and Joyce will be celebrating 53 years of marriage in May (2006). (Joyce, how have you done it?)
Bear Lake Boy Scout Troop 106 has produced 38 Eagle Scouts with three more close to requirement completion. What is Fred’s recipe for keeping these young boys in the program? Well, according to Fred: “When they get to an age where they start mixing perfume and gasoline, you have to be right on them to keep’em going!” Camping weekends, community service projects, weekly meetings, Fred continues to always be there, encouraging young boys to better themselves and grow into respected citizens of their community. Fred himself was awarded the Silver Beaver Award, Scenic Trails Scoutmaster of the Year, and his most recent award, the Daniel Carter Beard National Masonic Scouter Award for outstanding achievement in Scouting and Masonry. Fred is the third recipient of this award which is given to only one person a year nationwide.
Fred’s military background no doubt contributes to his ability to keep his “troops” on line! He retired from the Army National Guard after 40 years of service and the distinction of holding the highest rank for an enlisted man – Command Sgt. Major. He has been the recipient of numerous military awards. One of his commanders expressed these words: “He chose to remain an enlisted career man and rose to the highest enlisted position. Commanders in the military come and go, but men like Fred offer their knowledge, stability and leadership to ensure a fine unit at all times. I’d like to believe that these qualities which he carries into the Scouting program have been partially attributed to his military background and schooling.” (that quote came from Jerome J. Mathieu Jr., Fred’s Commander, in a letter recommending Fred for the Silver Beaver Award in 1975).
Fred’s life has been “stable” – 53 years of marriage (as of 2006), 40 years of National Guard, 40 years with the US Post Office, 39 years and counting with Scouting, 36 years as Pleasanton Township Supervisor and counting, 17 years as a Bear Lake School bus driver and basketball scorekeeper, and five years as the present Bear Lake Promoters President. ( He served a total of 10 years.)
These are just a few of Fred Alkire’s accomplishments in life. He has won numerous awards for his dedication, commitment, and service. It is most fitting that he be the 2006 Manistee County Citizen of the Year .