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DAR decorates John K. Gore for his vast community service

Published 9:43am Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dowagiac Daily News

CASSOPOLIS – John K. Gore took early retirement from Bendix in 1983 and apparently decided he’d had enough traveling because he rooted himself in Cass County and couldn’t be “pried out with dynamite,” his son, John S., said Monday afternoon at Cass District Library.

Capt. Samuel Felt Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) honored the 22-year Penn Township supervisor with its community service award, which his son accepted.

“He has contributed so much to Cass County that it’s nearly impossible to detail,” Virginia Bontrager of Dowagiac said.

Thomas Swartz said, “John Gore is a friend, a neighbor, a colleague. He is an incredible individual. I think he gives your organization great distinction for appointing him. He’s a good, good guy, and you’ve done well by attaching your name with John Gore.”

“It’s daunting because he’s done all the things we’ve talked about when he was a year older than I am now,” John S. Gore said. “He started this new life in 1983. Home is where the heart is, and my father’s is in Cass County. My mother looked forward to traveling, so we children took her places, but my dad dove straight into the community, looked around and said, ‘What can I do?’ He loves Cass County. I’ve heard that so many times. He’s deeply appreciative to the DAR and for the love and devotion of his friends.”
Penn Township Treasurer Paul Rutherford said he served with Gore for 21 years.
“He never missed a meeting.”

Paul’s daughter, Lisa, is township clerk and wrote a letter recommending Gore.
Gore in June 2008 at Dowagiac Elks Lodge 889 became the fourth non-Rotarian presented a Paul Harris Fellow for community service by Dowagiac Rotary Club.
Gore is now one of five non-Rotarians recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow, along with John Eby (2004), Ned Sutherland (2005), Dr. James Wierman (2006) and Mayor Donald Lyons (2009).

“The things we do out of personal hobby interests have the real value for us, I think,” Gore said. “Public service is much more rewarding than the time you put into it. I see Charlie Gratz here, a longtime colleague from our Twin County Probation Center board,” on which Gore served more than 20 years.
The breadth of Gore’s service encompasses the Building Authority, Economic Development Corp., Central Dispatch Authority, Friends of Cass District Library, Community Corrections Advisory Board, Gateway Community Foundation, Human Services Coordinating Council, Substance Abuse Advisory Board, Stone Lake Woods board, Woodlands Foundation, Diamond Lake Yacht Club board, Southwestern Michigan College Foundation and a Probate Court guardian, to cite some examples.

“He was also instrumental in getting the sewer out to K&M and the Council on Aging,” Bontrager said.

“Those of you who know John know it would be impossible to get him here if he knew he was going to receive any recognition,” said Southwestern Michigan College President Dr. David Mathews, a 2005 Paul Harris Fellow. “He is a great public servant, but has done much of his work behind the scenes and prefers it that way.”

Gore, 79, was born Oct. 30, 1930, in Clearwater, Fla., to Jean Stamp Gore and John Curtis “Curt” Gore.

His grandparents played a large role in his life, spending time with Grandpa and Grandma Gore and residing most of his formative years, along with his parents, with his maternal grandparents, Kenneth and Rena Stamp.

Both Gore’s grandfathers were master carpenters, so he’s always had interest and skills in that field. Many houses and barns Kenneth Stamp built are still around today, more than 80 years later.

John’s brother Curtis was born in Cassopolis in 1932. Youngest brother Charles was born in Clearwater in 1937 and retired to Orlando. Curtis passed away in 1995.

For the first 12 years of his life, Gore spent summers in and around Cassopolis and the school year in Clearwater, where Curt worked for a time at the newspaper, the Clearwater Sun.

For a year in the early 1940s, Gore’s family lived in Anderson, S.C.

His lifelong romance with Marilyn Squires began in high school. They continued dating after graduating in 1948.

She went to Western. John attended what was then Michigan State College.

On Aug. 13, 1950, they married. While he finished school, Marilyn began her 40-year career in elementary education.

After graduating from college, Gore joined Bendix, initially working at the Mishawaka, Ind., plant.

For several years he was involved with the Talos Missile Program, representing Bendix contracts with the U.S. Navy.

Later, he transferred to the South Bend, Ind., plant, where he negotiated landing gear and engine control contracts for Bendix with Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft, as well as some military applications.

Both the Boeing 747 and F-14 fighters are aircraft with which Gore was involved.
After 33 years with Bendix – also known as Allied Signal and Honeywell – Gore “retired.”

A year before departing Bendix, John and Marilyn bought the first of properties they would renovate and rent.

Marilyn continued to teach kindergarten for several more years, confiding to her son, “If I retire, then your father will put me to work.”

At roughly the time he got into the home renovation and rental business, John was asked to assume the supervisor’s position with Penn Township.

John and Marilyn are parents of three educators: Janeen (Bob) Godfrey; Jill (Tom) Vihtelic; and John (Paula) Gore.

Janeen taught mathematics for Lawrence Central High School in the Indianapolis area.

Jill was a professor of business administration for St. Mary’s College.

John was a professor of communications at Ivy Tech Community College.

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