Ivan Anthony recognized for over 55 years of 4-H service

July 26, 2013
Front: Betty and Ivan Anthony. In back, from left: Duane Cooper, Joe Cooper, Rep. Franz, Betty and Ivan's children Nancy Estola and David Anthony.

Front: Betty and Ivan Anthony. In back, from left: Duane Cooper, Joe Cooper, Rep. Franz, Betty and Ivan’s children Nancy Estola and David Anthony.

PERE MARQUETTE TWP. (at the Western Michigan Fair) — For nearly six decades, Ivan Anthony has been a making a difference in the lives of youth here in Mason County.  At the age of 18, with seven years of 4-H experience under his belt, Ivan became a 4-H leader and has continued to devote his time and his talents to living the 4-H motto of “Making the best better.”  On Thursday the community thanked him in two very special ways.  
Ivan signState Rep. Ray A. Franz presented Ivan with a Special Tribute on behalf of the State of Michigan for his dedication and passion to the mission of 4-H.  The tribute was signed by Rep. Franz, State Sen. Goeff Hansen and Governor Rick Snyder and presented to Ivan just before the large animal auction at the Western Michigan Fair.
“Ivan Anthony has been a pillar of the community his entire adult life.  He has touched generations of people in so many ways — more than he may even know.  It is my great privilege and pleasure to to be able to say thank you and present this small token of our deep appreciation.” Franz stated.
The tribute reads in part: “You gave of your head and taught us to think, plan and reason; You gave of your heart and taught us to be noble, kind and true; You gave of your hands and taught us to be helpful, skillful and useful; You gave of your health and taught us to enjoy our lives and our work.”
However the tribute wasn’t the only surprise for Ivan that night; Rep. Franz’ Legislative Director, Jennifer Smeltzer had one more tribute to share with Ivan.
Here is the story of how this second surprise came to be: “Several months ago, Rep. Franz and I attended a community dinner and had the good fortune to sit at a table with Ivan and Betty Anthony,” Smeltzer said. “Naturally our conversation turned to 4-H and the Summit Woodchoppers Club.  Ivan was clearly saddened by the fact that, for various reason, he had not been able to lead the club this year. And he had made the comment about what a big hole the club’s absence would leave in the 4-H building.
“He also mentioned that he was hopeful that ‘the Cooper boys’ might be able to carry on the club.  Well on the ride home from the dinner, a thought popped into my head:  ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could contact club members from over the years and set up a display as a tribute and thank you to Ivan?'”
“But we wanted it to be a complete surprise for Ivan. I had no idea how we would pull this rabbit our of our hat, but God knew.  Several weeks later, Joe Cooper called the legislative office on a totally unrelated matter.  As we were talking, I recalled Ivan’s comment about the Cooper boys and so I asked Joe if he was indeed a Cooper boy.  ‘Why, yes I am’ he replied. So I shared our idea with him and Joe was on board. He was more than happy to contact previous club members and gather projects.   We had our first ‘angel.'”
“Now, all we needed was permission from the fair board.  Our second ‘angel’ was Marcia Hansen.  She cleared the decks with the fair board and made sure that we had whatever we needed.  Marcia told me everything would fall into place and indeed it did. And even more amazingly, despite how many ‘angels’ seen and unseen had their hands in making this a success – we were able to keep it a total surprise for Ivan.”
“Rep. Franz and I  want to particularly thank Joe Cooper, his brothers, their parents Duane and Leslie, and Norman  and Chris Sanford for literally doing all the heavy lifting to bring this together. And, of course Marcia Hansen for her support and enthusiasm.  There were others in the community — others we have never met — who were also instrumental in making tonight a success and we would like to thank them as well.”
Ivan was moved to tears when he viewed the display in the 4-H building later that evening. At the front of the display was a large sign thanking him and signed by former club members and others in the community who had been touched by Mr. Anthony.  The display had woodworking projects dating back to Ivan’s first class in 1958.  Bruce Patterson still had the three-legged stool he made and Norman Sanford had the cutting board he made in 1958.  There were lamps, chairs, stereo cabinets, shelves, picture frames, clocks, tables and even a pair of stilts all made by students from the Summit Woodchoppers and made under the patient guidance of Ivan Anthony and his other leaders.
Joe Cooper commented, “I so appreciated Ivan and everything he taught us.  He got my brothers and I into woodworking. And, for one of my brothers it became his livelihood.  It’s a fun hobby and it all started with him.  Iv’e been doing this 20 plus years and I still have all my fingers”.
As to keeping it a surprise for Ivan, his wife Betty had this to say “It’s always interesting trying to keep something from Ivan but we did it – he is really touched by this.”
Liz Stark summed it up this way: “You made us proud of who were and what we did.”
“I can’t think of anyone who deserves this special recognition more. Thank you for giving so much to the youth of Mason County,” added Marcia Hansen.
Ivan’s grand niece, Shelby Soberalski, shared the following: “You have been such a great influence in my life.  I couldn’t has asked for a better role model.  I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today had it not been you and 4-H.”
Clearly moved and touched by the display Ivan commented, “This is really something, really something.”
The Summit Woodchoopers will continue next year with a new class under the leadership of Joe Cooper and his brother. And, very likely the gentle advice and support of Ivan Anthony.


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