Editorial: John K. Gore set bar high for serving Cass

Published 11:38 am Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Longtime Penn Township Supervisor John K. Gore, who died Sunday, March 21, at 79, in June 2008 became the fourth non-Rotarian presented a Paul Harris Fellow for community service by Dowagiac Rotary Club. For a few years he guided Southwestern Michigan College’s foundation.

People packed Penn Township Hall in October 2009 when praise flowed for their 22-year supervisor. Mr. Gore’s plaque of thanks for his service shared a space below the refurbished Vandalia School bell with one for Nellie O’Dell. O’Dell (1873-1971) was recognized in 1975 for 38 years of teaching at the school which once occupied the space where the townhall sits.

A teacher for 54 years, she retired at the age of almost 86.

Mr. Gore improved the quality of life with water and sewer projects. He 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 to Cass County Council on Aging across M-60. His civic activities extended well beyond Penn, however, to economic growth, human services, Cass District Library, dispatch, Gateway and the county Building Authority when it was active in the ’90s building the jail, Sheriff’s Office, Animal Control and the 2004 Law and Courts Building.

As recently as March 8 his countless contributions to Cass County’s quality of life were recognized by Capt. Samuel Felt Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

Roger Leach worked with Gore for 16 years on the Penn board and ended up heading the ambulance board.

“He made the job look easier than what it was,” Leach said.

“He was the best conflict negotiator,” County Commissioner Bill Steele said. “He answers quick … was always available.”

Sheriff Underwood may have best summed up why so many came on that Sunday to praise Mr. 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 Mr. Gore’s great-great-grandfather, James Stamp also served as supervisor in the 1860s.

“The things we do out of personal hobby interests have the real value for us, I think,” said Mr. Gore, who served more than 20 years on the Twin County Probation Center board.
The breadth of Mr. Gore’s service also encompassed Economic Development Corp., Central Dispatch Authority, Friends of Cass District Library, Community Corrections Advisory Board, Gateway Community Foundation and Probate Court guardianship, to cite a few examples.

Mr. Gore, 79, was born Oct. 30, 1930, in Clearwater, Fla., to Jean Stamp Gore and John Curtis “Curt” Gore. For the first 12 years of his life, Mr. Gore spent summers in 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, Mr. Gore’s family lived in Anderson, S.C. Since, he always lived in Cass County.

“He made a tremendous impact on the county and, in the greatest tradition of public service, left it better than he found it,” SMC President Dr. David Mathews said in making him a Paul Harris Fellow. Indeed, everyone in Cass County owes him a debt of gratitude.