What Will Waino Bring?

What Will Waino Bring?

Waino Liuha receives an award from United Way of Marquette County
Campaign Co-Chair Walt Lindala, in 2006. 

When you ask people in the community what they remember about Waino Liuha, they light up. Waino may have passed in 2013, but his spirit is still alive, continuing to inspire everyone who knew him.In his 87 years of living, Waino was many things: A miner, husband and father, veteran, union president, social worker, churchgoer, volunteer and raffle-ticket seller. In everything he did, Waino’s goodness was apparent to all.Virginia Paulson, a trustee with the Negaunee Historical Society and member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Negaunee where Waino was also a member, remembered, “When I asked Waino to bring something for coffee time after church, he’d always ask, ‘What will Waino bring?’” You could say that was the question that guided his life.“Everybody knows Waino was a good guy,” said Dave Hallgren, a friend and fellow Lions Club member who met Waino at Immanuel. Hallgren continued, “Waino was always such a giving person. He was always ready to help people. That was his personality. He was visiting people, raising money, active at church, and involved with the Ishpeming Kiwanis and Negaunee Lions.”Born in Wakefield, Michigan in 1925 to Arvo and Lempi (Kangas) Liuha, Waino lived in Negaunee for most of his life. A U.S. Army veteran, he served in WWII from 1944-1946. He moved to Negaunee in 1951 and worked at the Tracy Mine from 1951-1964, serving as union president for eight of his 13 years as a miner. He was married in 1957 to Joanne, a teacher and volunteer. In 1961, their daughter Katherine was born.

Waino (standing, far left) with his mine shaft crew at Tracy Mine, in the 1950s.Photo: Negaunee Historical Society

 Thanks to a program at the mine, Waino was able to work and go to college at the same time. He went to Northern Michigan University (NMU) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1964. That same year, he began working with the VFW as an assistant department service officer. From 1966-1992, he worked for the Marquette County Department of Social Services, first with Child Welfare, and later, Adult Services. Waino earned a master’s degree in education at NMU in 1973.As a volunteer and board member, Waino was involved with many organizations, including the United Way of Marquette County, the Central UP Food Bank, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), VFW Post 3165, D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans, the Community Fund of Negaunee, Thrivent, and many others. He devoted a great deal of his time to assisting disabled veterans, as well as helping local veterans enroll in assistance programs.No tribute to Waino would be complete without a mention of his legendary gift for selling raffle tickets. He was never without raffle tickets in his front pocket. Hallgren noted, “Waino was a great ticket seller. At our Lions Club, we have a big pancake breakfast every year, and Waino and I would always have a contest to see who could sell the most tickets. Waino always won.”  It’s not surprising that Waino won many awards for his work and volunteerism. Funny thing was, Waino didn’t care about awards. He just wanted to do good things. Hallgren remembered one occasion where he was given an award for being an outstanding social worker in Marquette County. He recalled, “Waino was very humble. He accepted the award and said, ‘Thank you very much. I don’t deserve this. I have a bunch of tickets to sell, so that’s the end of my speech.’ That was Waino.”Waino’s sense of stewardship showed up in every part of his life, including each week at church when the offering plate was passed. Hallgren, one of the offering “counters” at Immanuel, remarked, “We noticed Waino was a very, very generous person with his finances. Nobody wanted to get Waino’s check – it usually had a list of about eight different things he wanted his money to go to.” In addition to everything else, Waino was intentional in his giving.In 2007, Waino established the Waino and Joanne Liuha Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of Marquette County, following the death of his wife, Joanne, in 2001. The primary purpose of the Fund is “to provide financial assistance to graduating seniors of Negaunee High School who will be pursuing certification or a degree at an institution of higher education and who have financial need.”  Zosia Eppensteiner, CEO of the Community Foundation, said, “The story of Waino is a story of generosity and community. Waino valued education, and the establishment of the scholarship fund and the recent generous support through his estate are helping seniors from Negaunee High School continue their education. This fund will grow even more as a resource for students in need of financial assistance in the future. Waino’s legacy of giving continues.”Dave Hallgren summed up Waino’s life and legacy, by saying, “That was Waino’s mission in life – to be a servant. To help people. He set such a good example on how to live.” A special thanks to everyone who contributed photographs and information for this article: Dave Dompierre, Negaunee Historical Society; Dave and Judy Hallgren; Virginia Paulson, Negaunee Historical Society; Andrew Rickauer, United Way of Marquette County; Russell Ault; and Walt Lindala, Media Brew.

Ray Leverton: A Lifetime of Service

Ray Leverton: A Lifetime of Service

Ray Leverton with Jason Chapman, Ishpeming City Council member, displaying the tribute from the State of Michigan recognizing Ray for his lifelong service to the community.
Photo courtesy of the City of Ishpeming

Ishpeming lost one of its dearest community members on December 27, 2021. Ray Leverton, 92, was the quintessential community person — a volunteer and role model for everyone who wants to make a difference close to home.Ishpeming Mayor Lindsay Bean noted, “Ishpeming is a better place for having had Ray Leverton. His contributions, and his dedication to the community, are unmatched.”So beloved is Ray that the State of Michigan has designated September 9 as “Ray Day” — a day set aside “to be like Ray” and give back to the community. Ray was also presented with an American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol, a State of Michigan flag that flew over the state Capitol, a certificate from U.S. Senator Gary Peters, and a State of Michigan tribute signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lieutentant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and Senator Ed McBroom. The tribute was presented to Ray by State Representative Sara Cambensy.

Ray lived a life of service to others, including serving in the armed forces and being a volunteer director and curator at the U.S. National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum. He was also a member of Ishpeming’s Noon Kiwanis Club, the Ishpeming High School Alumni Association, Ishpeming Hematites Booster Club and Bethany Lutheran Church. During the last decade, he spearheaded a campaign to make building improvements at the Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library, raising nearly $600,000 for improving building accessibility, lighting, air conditioning and new windows.Ishpeming City Council Member Jason Chapman, shared, “Ray was a man of deep faith, both in God and in his fellow citizens. He knew the value of doing good work and he taught that to so many of us. I was one of the lucky ones who got to watch Ray at work for three decades. He worked with my cousin, the late Wes Wentela, and, my mom, at the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame. One of the best things he ever said to me was ‘In 30 years of work, Wes and I never had an argument — we just got along and worked together to get the job done.’ That left a lasting impression on me — that as volunteers we should all work together and get the job done.”

One of Jason’s favorite memories of Ray is when they attended from the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame’s Scramble Golf Outing at Wawonowin Country Club a few years back. “I was hopeful that my partner would be someone that I knew, or that I would enjoy golfing with. To my wondrous surprise, I was paired with Ray. I got to listen to stories from his childhood, stories about his wife, Betty and his kids, and stories about the community. I also remember when we turned the corner from the back nine to the front, I had a bad hole going, but it just didn’t matter, because I was golfing with Ray.”“The community will miss Ray for his love, his decency and kindness towards others, and his selfless devotion to the city and school he loved. We are all better because of Ray, even those who didn’t meet him. He made the community better. It’s our job to pick up that mantle and continue to make Ishpeming a better place, because that’s what Ray would want. He sat many of us down in the past few years to discuss projects that he wanted to see finished, so it’s our job to ensure we honor him and make them a reality.”

Special thanks to Ishpeming Mayor Lindsay Bean and Council Member Jason Chapman for their contributions to this story. 

John D. Voelker Foundation Partners With CFMC to Establish the Native American Law School Scholarship Endowment Fund

John D. Voelker Foundation Partners With CFMC to Establish the Native American Law School Scholarship Endowment Fund

Pictured Above: John D. Voelker fly fishing at his beloved Frenchman’s Pond. Photo: Sunday Magazine of the Detroit News (June 18, 1967)

The Community Foundation of Marquette County (CFMC) is very pleased to announce the John D. Voelker Foundation Native American Law School Scholarship Endowment Fund. Earlier this year, Rich Vander Veen and Fred Baker, officers of the John D. Voelker Foundation, approached the Community Foundation about becoming the new home for the scholarship fund, which was established more than 30 years ago to honor a great and gifted man.

Born in Ishpeming in 1903, John D. Voelker was many things: a lawyer, Michigan Supreme Court Justice, renowned novelist and outdoor writer, along with being a skilled and passionate fly fisherman. John loved the U.P. and lived here all but a few years of his life.

He wrote 12 books, including Trout Magic and Anatomy of a Murder, which became a famous film and made him, as he described it, “a promising young author at the age of 52.”
Vander Veen and Baker, two Michigan attorneys who knew Voelker through their work, had been visiting John in the U.P. for some years when it occurred to them “that we should do something to honor him and preserve the legacy of his love for the U.P. and his humanity,” Baker said. “We agreed with the late Voelker Board member and journalist Charles Kuralt’s assessment of John: He was the ‘nearest thing to a great man’ either of us had known.”

The John D. Voelker Foundation was established in to do “a few good things in his name.” One of those good things was assisting Native American scholars to achieve the dream of a legal education. The fund was created from contributions from members of the Foundation, who subscribed to limited editions of Laughing Whitefish, Trout Madness, and Traver on Fishing signed by Voelker when the Foundation was established.

Justice Voelker hoped and believed that providing such assistance would help Native American people to overcome past injustices by empowering “warrior lawyers” to assist, defend and represent their communities in the legal profession. To date, Foundation members’ contributions have helped 34 Native American scholars from Michigan and Wisconsin tribes achieve the dream of a legal education.

To raise funds to establish the John D. Voelker Foundation, its founding members first republished Laughing Whitefish as a limited edition of 300, with each signed by Voelker. To date, Foundation members’ contributions have helped 34 Native American scholars from Michigan and Wisconsin tribes achieve the dream of a legal education. Now endowed, the fund will grow in perpetuity to help others become “warrior lawyers.”

With donations from several generous donors, the Voelker Foundation partnered with the Community Foundation to create a permanent endowment for the scholarship fund, which will provide fund administration services and annually disburse the proceeds available for distribution to scholars, based on the recommendation of the Voelker Scholarship Committee.

Of its new partnership with the Community Foundation, Baker said, “The John D. Voelker Foundation is beyond pleased to announce that, after 31 years of giving away our scholarship funds as fast as we raised them since the first grant in 1991, we were at last able to establish a permanent endowment this year to ensure perpetual existence for the John D. Voelker Foundation’s Native American Law School Scholarship.”

“It is our hope and expectation that this permanent endowment fund will grow over the years to enable us to assist students who are enrolled members of a federally recognized Michigan or Wisconsin tribe to pursue the dream of a legal education, which was the first objective John chose for the Foundation,” added Baker.

CEO Zosia Eppensteiner said, “We are honored that the John D. Voelker Foundation has chosen Community Foundation of Marquette County as the new home for the Native American Law School Endowment Fund and to be a part of continuing John D. Voelker’s amazing legacy and commitment to supporting Native American scholars in the future.”

Celebrate Community Together!

Celebrate Community Together!

You’re invited to the Community Foundation of Marquette County’s 2022 Annual Celebration on Wednesday, September 14 at 5:00 p.m. The event will be held at the Northern Center on the campus of Northern Michigan University.

The evening will be a celebration of the Community Foundation’s philanthropic impact on Marquette County and the work we do together as a community. We’ll share stories of our collective positive impact, including the Catalyst Awards presentation, which will honor local people, organizations, and businesses who’ve made a big difference in Marquette County. We’ll also share an exciting update on Kid’s Cove, Marquette’s Playground for All, which is in the home stretch of its campaign. And of course, we’ll enjoy delicious food and drink while listening to live music.

Join us for an inspiring evening!

Second Annual Blind Groundhog Beer Sampling – February 2, 2018

Will we have six more weeks of winter or an early spring? Who knows? Punxsutawney Phil is a groundhog, not a meteorologist! This year Phil and all other craft beer lovers will be invited to the Community Foundation of Marquette County’s second annual Blind Groundhog Beer Sampling. The event will be hosted by the Marquette Area Community Fund (“MAC”), an affiliate fund of the Community Foundation of Marquette County, on February 2, 2018, at the Marquette Regional History Center from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.

During the event, guests will enjoy “blind” samples of brews selected by UP brewers. At the end of the evening, each of the brews will be revealed. Border Grill food, great beers, wine and lots of fun!

The event is intended to help to raise money for the  Community Foundation Grants Program, which provides grants to many local charities.

Must be 21 or older to participate in sampling. Valid ID is required at the door.