Penn Township pays tribute to 22-year supervisorPublished 8:08am Wednesday, October 14, 2009
By MARCIA STEFFENS
Dowagiac Daily News
VANDALIA – Penn Township Hall was packed Sunday when words of praise flowed for the township’s longtime supervisor, John K. Gore.
Gore’s plaque of thanks for his service now shares a space below the refurbished Vandalia School bell with one for Nellie O’Dell.
O’Dell (1873-1971) was recognized in 1975 for her 38 years of teaching at the school which once occupied the space with the townhall sits.
A teacher for 54 years, she retired at the age of almost 86.
Sunday, some of her former students were there to share in the celebration, including Cass County Sheriff Joe Underwood.
Donna Knepple of Donnell Lake was one of four generations in her family to be taught by O’Dell.
Knepple was in the seventh and eighth grade with Dolores Morse, also of Donnell Lake.
Also present was her great-great-great niece, Jessica Stutsman of Elkhart, Ind.
But the day was really for Gore, whose own family was also there to share his special day, especially his wife Marilyn.
Daughter Janeen (Bob) Godfrey came from Carmel, Ind.
From Cassopolis were another daughter, Jill (Tom) Vihtelic and son, John S. Gore, who brought his son, John D. Gore.
The present supervisor, Richard Mickey, highlighted many of Gore’s accomplishments during his 22 years as supervisor, especially improving the quality of life with water and sewer projects.
He mentioned Gore also helped K&M Manufacturing when it wanted to expand and was running out of room, to bring water and sewer to its facility and also the Cass County Council on Aging across M-60.
“His civic activities went beyond Penn Township,” Mickey said, citing work with economic groups, human services, Cass District Library, dispatch, Gateway and the county Building Authority.
“I have never seen him in a hurry,” Mickey said, adding he was “amazed” by all Gore did. “All of us in the room couldn’t do it,” he added.
Gore influenced him to sit on the tax board of review and the planning commission which would eventually led to the supervisor role.
“Everyone owes him a debt of gratitude,” Mickey said.
Mickey wasn’t alone in being persuaded by Gore to serve the community.
Roger Leach worked with Gore for 16 years on the Penn board and ended up heading the ambulance board.
“He is a wealth of information,” Leach said of Gore. “He made the job look easier than what it was.”
Fire Chief James Bogue said they always got what they needed.
“He was the best conflict negotiator,” County Commissioner Bill Steele said. “He answers quick … was always available.”
When two villages and four townships needed to agree to get something accomplished (such as the paramedic service), it was a “difficult task,” added Joe Gossens, who served as supervisor for seven months following Gore’s retirement.
Gore also brought everybody together to look for a solution when invasive species invaded area lakes.
Sheriff Underwood may have best summed up why so many were there Sunday to praise Gore.
“John was always there, always prepared if projects were needed. He did it right and knew how to guide you, not only in Penn but in Cass County.”
His family had been serving since Gore’s great-great-grandfather, James Stamp also served as supervisor in the 1860s.
“I miss the challenge of the job … I miss you even more,” Gore said.