|Chamber Pres. 1912-1963|
Moores, James Henry - First Chamber President 1912 & 1913. Moores was born in Ohio in 1846, and by way of Alabama, came to Lansing around 1906. He was an organizer of the Atlas Drop Forge Company and became a real estate developer. In 1909, Moores donated the land for Moores Park (also known as Belvedere Park), which was a zoo until Potter Park was donated and developed. Moores died in 1918 and gifted to the City of Lansing the land for Frances Park in his will. The Country Club of Lansing began in 1908 when 17 men formed the Lansing Golf Club and leased the land and the soon-to-be built "locker house” from J.H. Moores, who envisioned the golf club as a booster to his subdivision along the Grand River.
Prudden, William K. - Chamber President 1914 & 1915. Prudden was born in 1859 and early on developed a love of horses and sulky racing. He developed rubber tired sulky wheels, which was his start in the wheel business. He came to Lansing in 1875 and graduated from Michigan Agricultural College in 1878. Prudden was a pioneer in the automobile wheel business, but began his business life as a real estate broker. The Prudden Wheel Company became one of the leading industries of Lansing and one of the largest manufacturers of wheels in the world. The American Savings Bank was organized largely through his efforts in 1910, and in 1921, the bank merged with another to form the American State Savings Bank. The Prudden Building was known as Lansing's first tall building. The first paved road from Lansing to Detroit and westward to Grand Rapids is credited to Prudden's foresight in championing for better roads in Michigan. It was Prudden's initiative that resulted in the first hard surface road between Lansing and East Lansing. He was also the fuel administrator for Michigan during World War I. Prudden gifted to the City of Lansing the Prudden Auditorium, which was completed in 1916. Prudden died on December 29, 1926 in Coronado Beach, California.
Roe, J. Edward - Chamber President 1916 & 1917. Roe was a founder and president of the Lansing State Savings Bank, which opened in 1892. He was a charter member of the Lansing Rotary Club in 1916 and its first president. Roe held various offices in numerous civic organizations, including the Grand River Boat Club, one of the most prominent social organizations in the late 1800s and early 1900s and the site of the organizing meeting of the LBMA in 1901. Roe was elected a board member of LBMA, serving as president, treasurer and secretary. It is believed he was born in 1862 and died January 17, 1939.
Arbaugh, F.N. - Chamber President 1918 & 1919. In 1896, Arbaugh left Pennsylvania for Lansing to join his college roommate, Basil Cameron, in the operation of Cameron’s uncle’s department store, a one-story building near the corner of S. Washington and Kalamazoo streets. In 1897, the uncle sold a half interest in the business to young Arbaugh. The store became the first in Lansing to accept employees’ paychecks from the newly established Olds Motor Works. A new store was constructed in 1906, and it still stands today. In 1909, Arbaugh became the sole owner of the store and named it the F.N. Arbaugh Company. In 1953, a "sizeable interest” in the business was sold and Clarence R. Knapp, who replaced Arbaugh’s son as manager. The store closed in 1972. Arbaugh died March 5, 1955.
Bement, Clarence Edwin - Chamber President 1920. Bement moved to Lansing in 1869 and in 1876, he entered the University of Michigan but did not finish. Instead, he went into business with his father and brothers, known as E. Bement & Sons. In 1890, it was the largest factory in Lansing and its sales force serviced the area from the East Coast to Texas offering a very diverse product line. Bement always regretted leaving college early and accumulated a library of more than 5,000 volumes, largely on historical and classical subjects. In 1898, he was elected a member of the Lansing Board of Education, a position he held for 12 years. He was named superintendent of Lansing Schools and later became general manager of Novo Engine Company. Bement died in 1935.
Carrier, M.R. - Chamber President 1921 & 1922. Carrier was born in Calhoun County, Michigan and moved to Lansing in 1881. His first business venture was as a patent medicine manufacturer established in 1874 by Dr. Eugene Robertson and B.D. Northrop and later became a jobber of drug and grocery specialties. The company was located at 114 and 116 Ottawa Street and soon branched out to other cities throughout the Midwest. Carrier was the junior partner in the business, but served as the business manager. Carrier was president and general manager of Federal Drop Forge and also served as vice president of American Savings Bank. Carrier formed Carrier-Stevens Chemical Company, which was located in Holt and did business into the 1970s. He was also president of Lansing Rotary from 1917-1918. He died in 1944.
Bates, Donald E. - Chamber President 1923. Bates was born in Lansing in 1883. Bates was secretary-treasurer and later president of REO Motor Car Company, an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention from Michigan in 1932, and an initial organizer of the Community Welfare Fund in 1919 in conjunction with Ray Potter, W. H. Prudden, Frank N. Arbaugh, C.E. Bement and Charles W. Nichols. The fund was a community organization which worked to consolidate and organize the large number of charitable solicitations being made and is now known as the Capital Area United Way. Bates was also a founding member of Lansing Rotary and president in 1918-1919. Bates died in 1949.
Haarer, John W. - Chamber President 1924 & 1925. Haarer was born April 21, 1876 in Ann Arbor and was involved in the insurance business much of his life. He was a candidate for the Michigan State House of Representatives from Washtenaw County 1st District in 1902 and was the Michigan state treasurer from 1913-1916. He was also vice president of the City National Bank of Lansing and appointed by Gov. Fred W. Green as chairman of the Bath General Relief Fund.
Lundberg, Hugo B. - Chamber President 1926 & 1927. Lundberg was born on March 7, 1877 in Sweden. During his years as president, the Chamber erected the first hanger at what is today the Capital Region International Airport. Also during his presidency, the Chamber formed its first Legislative Committee. Lundberg was a very successful industrialist, having been a founder and owner of Michigan Screw Company formed with the assistance of R.E. Olds to ensure a reliable supply of parts for his auto company. Lundberg was chair of the Board of Water & Light for many years. He was also president of the Lansing Rotary from 1919-1920. Lundberg died on December 5, 1967.
Hager, Alton, J. - Chamber President 1928 & 1929. Hager was the president and general manager of the Hager-Cove Lumber Company. He had business partnerships with J.W. Knapp, R.E. Olds and F.N. Arbaugh; acted as president and general manger of the Hager Wall Tile Corporation; vice president of Industrial Bank; vice president of Standard Real Estate Company; and vice president of the Lansing Community Hotel Corporation. Hager was active in promoting the Lansing Airport, originally known as Creyts Field, located one-mile west of the current airport. The new airport was officially dedicated on July 14, 1928 and was attended by 70,000 people. A Stinson Detroiter plane arrived at the airport with Lansing's first airmail delivery on July 5, 1928. Mayor Laird J. Troyer and Hager were present to welcome the plane's arrival.
Wilford, James W. - Chamber President 1930 & 1931. Wilford was born in England in 1878 and moved to the United States as a child. Wilford held various positions in manufacturing before coming to Lansing to serve as general superintendent of Omega Separator Company. Omega purchased Segar Engine Plant and changed its name to Reliance Engineering while Wilford served as manager and treasurer. In 1918, he sold Reliance to General Motors. In 1920, he joined Melling Forging Company and became president in 1924. At the time Wilford joined, Melling Forging Company was one of Lansing’s oldest manufacturing companies. Wilford was also president of the Bank of Lansing; a director of Barker-Fowler Electric Co.; and vice president of Brick and Supply Company. He was active in the Masonic fraternity, Elks and Kiwanis.
Reutter, Gottlieb J. - Chamber President 1932. Reutter and three business partners founded Lansing Pure Ice which originally sold only ice cut from the Grand River to homeowners and businesses in Lansing. The company became Lansing Ice & Fuel in 1912 when coal was added to its product line. Reutter served three terms as mayor, starting in 1912, and served in various other elective offices through the years. He was honored by the city as its most outstanding citizen. It is reported that his most distinguished service came during the First World War when he guided the city through a period of sacrifice and unrest.
Pett, Howard - Chamber President 1933 & 1934. Pett was born in Muskegon in 1884. In October of 1930, Pett was named manager of the Lansing division of Consumers Power Co. He had previously served in the same capacity in the Jackson division from 1923-1930. When World War II broke out, Pett, 57, registered for the draft because of his strong desire to serve his country. He died in 1953 and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Muskegon.
Martin, Paul A. - Chamber President 1935. Martin was born in Atchison, Kansas on May 18, 1886. Martin was the editor and publisher of the Lansing State Journal for 33 years, having left school early to become a reporter. His father eventually became the governor of Kansas. He served as a lieutenant in WWI in France and the occupation of Germany and received three battle stars. He was the first commissioner of the George Custer Post of the American Legion in Battle Creek and served on the league’s national executive committee. He served as chair of a number of boards, including the Ingham County United Community Chest, Chief Okemos Council of Boy Scouts, Lansing Civic Center Commission and Edward W. Sparrow Hospital. He received the Ernie Pyle Plaque in 1961. Martin died on December 14, 1964.
Cady, Claude Ernest - Chamber President 1936 & 1937. Cady was born in 1878 in Lansing. He engaged in the wholesale and retail grocery business from 1899 to 1913. He was also active in the entertainment business, owning three theaters in Lansing including the Capitol and Gladmer Theaters. He was in the wholesale candy and fountain supplies business from 1925-1932. Cady was a Lansing Aldermen from 1910-1917 and on the Lansing Police and Fire Commission from 1918-1928. In 1932, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the 73rd Congress, serving till January 3, 1935. Cady served as postmaster in Lansing from 1935-1943, after which he retired from political and business life. He was president of Lansing Rotary from 1938-1939. He is believed to have died on November 30, 1953.
Ecker, Charles E. - Chamber President 1938. He was born in New Winsor, Maryland and graduated with a law degree from the University of Maryland. He was the legal counsel of the R.E Olds Company for 40 years. He was a member of the Lansing Traffic Commission and the Lansing YMCA Board. Ecker was also president of the Ingham County Bar Association in 1937. Ecker died in February 1961.
Maynard, John M. "Jack” - Chamber President 1939 & 1940. Maynard was the manager of the JC Penny store in Lansing. He was described as something of a rebel in the JC Penny family for violating the company credo of shoulder-to-shoulder uniformity and economy of scale by selling products not sanctioned by the home office. Maynard was famous for what the home office called the "War of the Roses” because of Maynard’s decision to sell roses out of the Lansing store. Ordered to stop, Maynard is reported to have said, "New York can’t see the forest for the rules.”
Kelley, Spencer D. - Chamber President 1941. Kelley was a prominent lawyer in Lansing for many years in the firm of Kelley and Seelye. Among his numerous clients was the Lansing School District, for which the firm successfully handled several cases that went to the Michigan Supreme Court. Kelley was also president of the Ingham County Bar Association in 1932.
MaDan, George G. - Chamber President 1942 & 1943. MaDan was head of George G. MaDan & Company, an insurance statisticians firm, and a partner in the accounting firm of MaDan & Bailey. MaDan served as attorney-in-fact for the Employers Underwriters and was secretary of the Michigan Farm Excess Loss Association. He became a member of the Lansing Rotary Club in 1932 and served as the 1951-1952 president and later as district chairman. MaDan died in 1955 at the age of 70.
Wohlert, Fred Jr. - Chamber President 1944, 1945 & 1946. Wohlert was born February 12, 1891. He emigrated from Germany as an infant and was a student of mechanical engineering. Wohlert worked at the Bates tractor plant, which later became the Wohlert Corporation. After retirement, he continued to serve as board chairman and a consultant for seven years. He was the only individual to serve three years as president of the Chamber. He served on the Board of Water & Light for 27 years, aided YMCA fund-raising programs and was a Rotarian with a record of 27 years of perfect attendance. He served as Rotary president from 1945-1946. He was a member of Trinity Lutheran for 65 years, 28 of which as an elder. Wohlert died July 5, 1978.
Hubbard, Harry D. - Chamber President 1947 & 1948. Hubbard was born in 1895. He was a prominent Lansing area attorney who served as president of the Ingham County Bar Association in 1944. In 1927, Harry Hubbard helped found the law firm of Hayden, Ballard & Hubbard. Although the firm had several name and personnel changes over the years, Hubbard remained its leader until his death in 1983. Hubbard was also president of the Lansing Lions Club and a board member of the United Way. In 2008, the firm Hayden, Ballard & Hubbard officially changed its name to The Hubbard Law Firm, P.C.
Searl, William C. - Chamber President 1949. Searl was the president and CEO of Auto-Owners Insurance Company from 1958-1963, having previously served as general counsel. Searl was prominent in the formation of the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) and was president of National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC). Auto-Owners grew by 63% during the tenure of Searl as its chief executive.
Graff, Walter A. - Chamber President 1950. Graff was president of the Lansing Credit Exchange after running the football, basketball, baseball, and track programs at Eastern High School from 1928-1940. He can only be described as fanatical about the school and its sports having led the school to one state basketball championship and three state football championships. Graff was inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame in 1980 and received the Edward R. VanderVoort Memorial Award. He was the father of two daughters, one of whom married Duane Vernon. Graff passed away in 1992 at the age of 93.
Milks, Malcolm H. - Chamber President 1951. Milks was the owner of the Malcolm Milks Chrysler Plymouth dealership, located at 1408 E. Michigan Ave., which sold Chryslers and Plymouths from 1951-1957. The dealership then became an Edsel & Fiat dealership, and when the Edsel was no longer manufactured, the dealership reverted back to a Chrysler dealership. Milks closed its doors in 1965. Milks also owned the Lansing Tire Company and Macklen Service Station. He was a director of American Bank and Trust and chairman of Union Savings and Loan. Milks also served on the Board of Education and as Mayor Pro-Tem. He was president of Lansing Rotary from 1947-1948. Milks passed away in 1978 in East Lansing.
McKim, R. Frank - Chamber President 1952. McKim was born in 1892, and in the 1940s, served as secretary of Reo Motor Car Company. McKim is believed to have died in 1987.
Porter, William J, Jr. - Chamber President 1953 & 1954. Porter was the founder of Porter Realty Company and was known as the realtor for Michigan State University and Lansing Community College. Porter graduated from MSU with a degree in engineering and went to work for Oldsmobile. He then joined Rolland Stebbins at Advance Realty but soon formed his own company, before retiring at the age of 84. Music was always a love of Porter, who played trombone in the Jack DeDamp dance band to help finance his college education. He later formed Bill Porter and his Orchestra. Porter was secretary of the Lansing Country Club, an officer in the City Club, president of the Board of Realtors, and a director of American Bank and Trust and First American Bank. Porter was also an officer in numerous appraisal organizations. He turned 90 on September 9, 1999 and died in 2001.
Wolfram, Jack F. Chamber President 1955. Wolfram held the post of general manager of Oldsmobile for 13 years ending in 1964. His previous employer was the Chandler Motor Car Co. of Cleveland. Though Olds enjoyed some its best years under his regime, Wolfram was either respected or genuinely disliked. Wolfram did have a flair for show business and introduced Broadway-type musical revues to debut the upcoming models to employees, the media and the dealers. One of Wolfram’s favorite entries was the Ninety-Eight in model year 1958, quickly dubbed the king of chrome by the media because of four long chrome strips running along the rear quarter panel.
Foster, Richard B. - Chamber President 1956 & 1957. Born in Lansing in 1908, Foster graduated from Lansing Central High School. After graduation from the University of Michigan Law School in 1932, he joined the firm founded by his father, Walter, known today as Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC. For more than 60 years, Foster was an outstanding lawyer, advocate and gentleman, serving as legal counsel to many Lansing and Michigan-based businesses. He was an avid supporter and leader of numerous community organizations and was the Ingham County Prosecutor for two terms. In 1942, he enlisted in the Army Air Corp as a lieutenant and was discharged as a major. He was president of the Ingham County Bar Association and Lansing Rotary President from 1954-1955 and served on the Lansing Police and Fire Boards. Foster died December 10, 1996.
Patenge, Walter F. - Chamber President 1958-1959. Patenge was born in 1898. Patenge was a graduate of Michigan State University and an industrialist and philanthropist. He was president and CEO of Wohlert Corporation. He was a trustee of Kiwanis International, and lieutenant governor and governor of the Michigan Kiwanis District. He also established the Walter F. Patenge Medal of Public Service, awarded each year for outstanding dedication to serving the public good. Patenge died in 1994.
Phillips, Russell F. - Chamber President 1960. Phillips graduated from Eastern Michigan University and Cleary Business Collect and was a teacher in Holt before becoming the owner of Phillips Realty Company, which he led for 25 years. In 1950, he served as president of the Michigan Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management. Phillips also served as president of the Lansing Board of Realtors, Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Zach Chandler Club, and he served as a director of Union Saving and Loan and chair of the United Community Fund Drive. Phillips was active in the Lansing Civic Players Guild and the YMCA. Phillips died in 1998.
Kouts, W.H. "Bud” - Chamber President 1961. In 1954, Kouts purchased Wolverine Chevrolet from Ted Peters and renamed it Bud Kouts Chevrolet. Joe Iding remained as office manager until 1963 when he was promoted to general manager. In 1977, Iding purchased the dealership from Kouts.
McDonald, Ronald Gen. - Chamber President 1962 & 1963. Adj. General McDonald was a member of the Michigan National Guard. He served as president of Lansing Rotary from 1970-71 and worked for Oldsmobile prior to being named Adj. General. He later worked at Lansing Lithograph.
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