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Ted Collom is Citizen of Year


Longtime Imlay City resident lauded for his love of community, country


December 10, 2008
IMLAY CITY — Ted Collom's life has been defined by service to his fellow man. From his days as an intelligence officer with the United States Army to the decade's worth he sat on the city commission and several other titles he's held in between, Collom's record made him an easy choice to be named the Chamber of Commerce's 2008 Citizen of the Year.

Ian Kempf, who called Collom a personal friend and mentor, presented him with the award at Saturday's chamber dinner dance at Countryside Banquet Center.

Collom was a city commissioner from 1985-89, 1993-97 and 2003-08. For two years, he held the title of mayor pro-tem (1987-89) and was the city clerk/treasurer for one year (1989-90).

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Ted Collom was named the Imlay City Chamber of Commerce 2008 Citizen of the Year at Saturday’s dinner dance at Countryside Banquet Center. photo by Catherine Minolli.

He sat on various city committees—planning commission, zoning board of appeals, election committee and the committee for building city hall—and is a member of the Imlay City Lions Club. Collom also spent ten years as a reserve police officer and five as an EMT.

His career was in banking and, Kempf noted, one of his nomination letters came from his former co-workers at CSB Bank. He retired from CSB Bank in 2003 as executive vice president.

"His love for this community runs deep but there's no question his love for this country runs deeper," Kempf said.

"Ted is most proud of his service to this country."

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Collom spent seven years in the Army and worked as an intelligence officer during the Cold War serving in places like Europe and Pakistan. He'd been sent to language school and was fluent in Russian. While flying with Navy bombers, Collom's job was to translate the Soviet's intercepted radio transmissions.

Collom has been a member of the local American Legion Post 135 for the past 20 years and has been commander for the last three. He and other Legion members are dedicated to seeing local veterans get buried with military honors. Collom has overseen more than 80 local salutes this year alone and participated in 300 salutes at the Great Lakes Military Cemetery in Holly over the last three years.

"I love this community," Collom said upon receiving the award.

"It's been my second home...we've been here for 30 years."

He discovered Imlay City while on a drive through the area. It was then he had his first encounter with a crop duster airplane ("I thought it was going to land on my car") while sitting in the Tietz Restaurant parking lot and the same day he submitted his resume to the bank across the street.

Collom thanked his wife, Marie, for being so patient and loving, especially when his commitments took him away from home.

His daughters, Debbie and Linda, walked through the back door of the banquet hall to surprise their dad. He and Marie are the proud grandparents to three.

The Merit Award was given to the St. Paul Lutheran Church and its Food for Families program. Coordinator Linda Looper said that since opening in January, they've served 1,500 free meals to needy individuals. They've also started a food pantry and collect clothes, appliances and other items that someone's always in need of.

Looper said they're grateful for the outpouring of community support from local business and community groups.

"This award goes out to everybody...not just St. Paul," Looper said.

"It's just been awesome to see what a difference you can make."

Meals are served at the church every Monday and Wednesday from 4-5:30 p.m.

The Imlay City Schools' Alumni Association was recognized as the 2008 Service Club. Although a relatively young organization, the membership has an impressive list of accomplishments, most notably, raising $30,000 in donations and grants to help restore the historic Grettenberger Field grandstands.

"Due to their service, dedication and commitment, the project is almost complete," said Schools Superintendent Gary Richards upon presenting the award.

The grandstands, built during the Great Depression by a Works Progress crew, had fallen in disrepair due to age and the elements. Eventually, it was deemed unsafe for use and could have been demolished had the Alumni Association not stepped forward earlier this year. In addition to structural improvements, the grandstands, named after longtime Superintendent R.A. Grettenberger, got a new coat of paint and will eventually have a new sign for which the Imlay City Rotary Club is helping purchase.

"We're proud of our accomplishments and of this award," Association President Bob Rider said.

Founded in 2002, the association has collected 5,000 names to its online database, hosted an annual all class reunion and created an endowed scholarship fund which has grown to $22,000.

Guests at the dinner dance enjoyed a full meal, dancing, door prizes and a silent auction.

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