Legacy Garden pays tribute to the greats who gave

A new feature at the Barry Community Foundation is the Legacy Garden which honors the contributions of past community leaders.

“The foundation of any great organization is rooted in the people who serve,” read a plaque in the garden, which was dedicated in an evening ceremony on July 29. “They become the nurturing force that fuels growth.

The centerpiece of the garden is a metal sculpture, shaped like tree branches within a circle, created by Richard Alan Morgan, a sculptor based in Wauseon, Ohio. The sculpture was part of the Midwest Sculpture Initiative 2020, which provides sculptures for the annual Hastings outdoor art exhibit, said BCF President and CEO Bonnie Gettys.

“[Gettys] saw this sculpture and thought it should really have a home at the Barry Community Foundation, ”said Diane Gaertner, Chairman of the Board of Directors of BCF.

“So with a lot of help and a lot of input from other people, she made this possible.”

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Morgan welded two sheets of metal to the branches of the sculpture, in honor of the original members of the BCF Board of Directors, Don Drummond and Richard Shuster.

“The tree will grow as we add leaves to honor those who came before us, who served the foundation in many ways,” said Gettys, who has led the organization since its inception in 1995.

Drummond, who was vice president and general manager of Flexfab, was a leading force and chairman of the Barry County Futuring Committee, which was established in the late 1980s to address challenges such as farmland preservation, economic development and quality of life.

Drummond’s efforts led to the creation of organizations such as the Thornapple Arts Council, Barry County Leadership, and the Barry Community Resource Network, as well as the construction of the Kellogg Community College Learning Center just west of Hastings.

“He wanted people to grow up. He would pitch the idea and let others take care of it, ”said Jim Toburen, a longtime friend, director of the automotive business unit at Flexfab.

Drummond, who died in February 2020 at the age of 84, was Chairman of the Board of Directors of BCF as well as a member of the Investment Committee of the Board of Directors.

“I know he would be happy today for this honor the foundation bestows upon him,” said Toburen.

Shuster moved to Hastings in 1957 to open a general law firm after being a lawyer in Grand Rapids for several years.

“He wanted a meaningful life in a small progressive community where he could raise his family and make a difference,” Fred Jacobs, BCF Board Member

member and president of J-Ad Graphics, said.

Shuster quickly became involved with the local chamber of commerce. He later made a deal with local businessman and community leader Dick Groos to acquire the old depot building on West Apple Street, which Shuster restored to house his law firm.

Shuster was appointed circuit judge for Barry and Eaton counties in 1982 by the then governor. William Milliken, and will become a judge for 13 years.

In addition to Shuster’s legal work, Jacobs spoke about his extensive involvement in community organizations, such as Barry County Fair Board, Boy Scouts, Barry County 4-H, YMCA, Charlton Park and the Humane Society.

“He loved Hastings and Barry County, and was always willing to give of his time and talent to make our community stronger,” said Jacobs.

Shuster died in July 2018 at the age of 89.

“Shuster was a special person who loved a simple lifestyle, the courage of his convictions, and he was always ready to stand up for what he believed,” Jacobs said.

A retired steelworker for an aerospace company in the Toledo area, Morgan began carving art from scrap metal more than ten years ago after his son, Nathan, was murdered in California.

“I found myself in the garage at 3am hammering metal, can’t sleep, still doing the same job I had for 36 years – still running and everything,” said Morgan. “It became more of a therapy for me.”

Morgan had a piece of art, titled “Hanging in the Balance,” presented at the 2015 ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids. The sculpture was made entirely from recycled materials.

“I used to take [metal] to scrap and get the money for it. Now I go to junkyards and buy it back, ”Morgan said.

Before welding the two sheets of his sculpture in honor of Drummond and Shuster, Morgan welded another sheet in honor of his late son. He expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the dedication.

“I feel honored where he is, really,” he said. “I haven’t done anything to put it in your hands, but I really appreciate the opportunity to be here and the dedication to what it stands for. It means a lot. “

Gettys thanked the people she thanks for helping her start the foundation.

“Our roots are the people who came before us,” she said, “and the legacy of the people who counseled me by sitting next to me.”

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