Kirkdorfer honored with new structure

Published 3:44 pm Sunday, November 7, 2010

Jefferson Township officials will dedicate the Kirkdorfer Memorial Pavilion at 8 a.m. Saturday. (Leader photo provided)

Jefferson Township officials will dedicate the Kirkdorfer Memorial Pavilion at 8 a.m. Saturday. (Leader photo provided)

When Jefferson Township Trustee Dean Hass attended a Farm Progress Show in Illinois in 2009, he was impressed with an inside display of a large grain bin erected with posts instead of sides for use as a picnic shelter. He snapped a picture and suggested to his fellow trustees that a similar structure would be a fitting memorial to the late Keith Kirkdorfer and could be erected on property behind the township hall.

The township board was sold on the idea and sent out a call for donations for the project in honor of the Cass County farm leader who died suddenly on May 9, 2008. Kirkdorfer was a member of the township board at the time of his death.

Hass then scouted farm publications for a grain bin for sale and found one in Huntington, Ind. It was purchased with the donations as well as an allocation from the township board. A crew was hired to dismantle the bin and re-assemble it, using new posts so it would be similar to the one Hass saw in Illinois. The labor for the clearing of brush behind the township hall was donated along with the labor for the structure’s concrete floor.

After a summer of work, the township is ready to show it off and will do so at the dedication of the Kirkdorfer Memorial Pavilion at 8 a.m. Saturday, rain or shine, behind the township hall at 24725 Jefferson Center St.

Kirkdorfer, who died just weeks before his 60th birthday, and hours after a township board meeting, was owner and operator of Kirkdorfer Farms and a long-time Cass County leader and philanthropist as well as a township trustee. He served on the Jefferson Township Planning Commission as well as on several other committees and boards in the county, including the Edwardsburg Fire Department board and the Farm Bureau Board.

A top soybean and seed corn producer, Kirkdorfer was treasurer of the Cass County Tractor Pullers Association and a lifelong member of the 4-H and 5-H horse clubs. A member of the sponsorship committee for the Cass County Fair, he constructed the pulling track at the Cass County Fairgrounds and he and his employees designed and built the movable stage at the fairgrounds.

A pancake and sausage breakfast will follow the dedication sponsored by the Jefferson Township Community Awareness Group.