2010-2011 EPS Hall of Fame Inductees

Richard Dean Franz

     Richard Dean Franz has been selected as an inductee of the Edwardsburg Public Schools under
the Lifetime Award category. (1/5/1924 – 6/13/1998) A lifetime resident of the Edwardsburg area,
Richard was born in 1924 to Dean and Carrie Franz. He was the oldest of three children and
attended Edwardsburg Public Schools his entire life. He graduated in 1943 from the Chicago
Road School. Richard was an outstanding athlete as well as an honor student during his
high school years. After graduation he attended Western Michigan College where he played
basketball. His post secondary education was cut short when he returned home to help with the
family farm. He became the third generation of his family to farm the family land. He married Anna Frucci and they were blessed with four children, Robert of Dowagiac, Diann Morris of Gobles, Debra Blume of
Edwardsburg and Michael of Niles. There are six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
     Richard was elected to the Edwardsburg Public Schools Board of Education in June of 1959 and
served from 1959 through 1969. He was instrumental in the plan to purchase the land where part
of the current town campus is located. During his tenure on the board he served as treasurer for
seven years and was paramount in establishing course offerings and extending partnership with
the Elkhart Area Career Center.
     While operating the family farm he was also plant superintendent for the second shift at Simplicity
Pattern Company in Niles, Michigan where he received several service awards. He retired in
1989 after 42 years of service. Richard remained a civic volunteer his entire life. After leaving
the school board he served as president of the Smith Chapel Cemetery Board and involved
himself with a variety of activities associated with Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church. Richard’s
dedication and commitment to civic duty have benefited those in the Edwardsburg district and his contribution have become a legacy to the community.

Keith Duane Kirkdorfer

      Keith Duane Kirkdorfer is being inducted into the Edwardsburg Public Schools Hall of Fame
under the category of Lifetime Award. (5/28/1948-5/9/2008). Keith Kirkdorfer was a name
synonymous with farming in the Cass County area.
      He was owner and operator of Kirkdorfer Farms and in 2008 was farming 8,000 acres and
custom harvesting an additional 2,500 acres for Pioneer Seed Company from Plymouth, Indiana.
He was a member of the 100 Bushel Soybean Club and 300 Bushel Corn Club. The goal for
these clubs is to attain a higher bushel per acre average. Michigan’s average for soybeans was
55 bushels and for corn was 180 to 200 bushels. Keith was the top soybean producer for the
state in 2006 and 2007. In 2007 he was the largest seed corn grower for Pioneer Seed at the
Plymouth plant.
     Keith graduated from Edwardsburg High School in 1966 and went on to Southwestern Michigan
College; he was a member of their first graduating class. He received his degree in Agriculture.
Keith worked at Miles Laboratories in Elkhart and White Farm equipment from 1972 to 1983,
while continuing to farm. While at White he drove across the country delivering and setting up
farm equipment.
     Keith served on the HOC Farmland Preservation Committee and was a member of the Cass
County Farm Bureau Board. He was instrumental in helping pass the Cass County Farmland
Preservation Ordinance in 2007. He was a member of the Michigan Bio-Diesel in Bangor,
Michigan and on the board of managers with Liberty Renewable Fuels in Ithica, Michigan.
Keith also served on the Jefferson Township Board and planning commission. He was on the
Edwardsburg Fire Department board and a former member of the department. He was the
treasurer of the Cass County Tractor Pullers Association and built the pulling track at the Cass
County fairgrounds. He and his employees also built the stage at the fairgrounds and he was
also on the sponsorship committee for the fair. Keith was a lifelong member of 4-H and 5-H
horse clubs.
     Keith met his wife Cindy in 1992 and they were married in 1996. He has three daughters,
Michelle Jensen, Laura Kempf and Brooke Krupp and one son Cameron Mendenhall. His
wife, son and daughter-in-law continue the farming operation in his memory. They have also
established scholarship awards in Keith’s memory for students who wish to follow a career in the
agriculture field.