2013-2014 EPS Hall of Fame Inductees

Richard Beckwith

The late Richard Beckwith has been named the 2013-2014 recipient of the Special Award for
significant contributions to the community.
Born in 1910, Beckwith graduated from Cassopolis High School. He married Adelaide Runkle in
1934 and the couple lived in Edwardsburg from 1939 until his death in 2008. He owned the local
State Farm Insurance Agency for 25 years, and was a longtime member, officer, and elder of the
Presbyterian Church.
He was a trustee on the Edwardsburg Village Council, and a board member of the Cass District
Library. As the longtime treasurer for the local library branch, he collected all funds for construction
of the branch’s first addition. He also was president, secretary, and sexton of the Edwardsburg
Cemetery Board on which he served for 27 years.
Beckwith was a member of the St. Peter’s Masonic Lodge 105 for more than 50 years, serving as
both master and treasurer. A 32-degree mason, he was a member of the Shrine. As a volunteer, he
also was a driver for the Edwardsburg Ambulance Service in its infancy in the 1960s and actively
volunteered with the Edwardsburg Fire Department. He was a scout leader when his son was in Cub
Scouts, and later treasurer of the local Boy Scouts of America.
Active in the Edwardsburg Area Historical Museum, he helped plaster the museum walls when he
was in his 90s. In 2005, he was the recipient of the museum’s annual Dr. John B. Sweetland Award,
named for the early community leader.
Because Beckwith lived near the museum, the cemetery, the Presbyterian Church, and the library
branch, he considered himself to be the self-appointed guardian of the grounds of those sites. He
often could be seen driving his small tractor and attached trailer with gardening supplies. Over the
years he planted more than 100 trees in the village and cemetery.
Beckwith was active in the Edwardsburg Area Chamber of Commerce. With his children, John and
JoAnn, and later, his grandchildren, he also was involved in Edwardsburg Public Schools activities.
He and Hall of Fame Inductee Otis Montgomery created the school district’s first concession stand
by pulling an old shed to the school grounds with a tractor. When the village water system was
installed in 1978, Beckwith helped install several water lines from residents’ houses to the curbs. He
also helped residents with home repairs and his contributions to the community’s well being will be
remembered for many years.


Larry Bidwell

Larry Bidwell is the 2013-2014 recipient in the Student Activities Award category for excellence in
academics and co-curricular activities.
Bidwell was a three-sport athlete during his four years of high school. He was nominated for the
first Thomas E.Warrell Award, given to the outstanding senior male athlete based on athletic ability,
leadership, sportsmanship, and scholastic requirements. In football, he was an offensive end, defensive
cornerback, and played on the kickoff, punt, coverage, and receiving teams. Playing under then Coach
Leo Hoffman, who considered him one of the most outstanding players during Hoffman’s coaching
days, Bidwell earned Big 8 All-Conference team honors as an offensive end and played on teams
winning back-to-back conference championships.
Bidwell was the EHS basketball team’s leading rebounder, and, as a varsity track team member and
captain, participated in the 440-yard dash, the 440 anchor leg of sprint medley relay, the high jump,
and the broad jump. He set the EHS broad jump record and the single season points scored record. He
placed in all four events at the Big 8 Conference Meet, was a medal winner in the 440-yard dash at the
Class C Regional, and qualified for the Class C state track meet in the 440-yard dash.
The class treasurer as a freshman, Bidwell also participated in choir, the junior and senior plays, and
the varsity club. He was the sports editor of the annual staff. Upon graduation in 1958, he received an
academic scholarship to Michigan State University, based on his academic rating, his contributions to
school life, and the promise of future development.
Bidwell earned a Bachelor of Science in Commerce from Ferris State University. Hired by Sears
Roebuck & Company, he was promoted through the ranks. As an operations manager, he twice was
responsible for opening new stores while continuing responsibilities for existing store operations. He
ultimately became a store manager. He received several sales competition awards, including a territorial
award for his store being named “The Best of the Best” and retired from Sears at the age of 52 after
33 years of service. During his career, he was active in several service and civic organizations, including
the Jaycees, the Chamber of Commerce, Junior Achievement and United Way.
After moving to Texas, he and his wife, Katie, were house parents for five years at a Methodist Church
Children’s Home where they were responsible for the well being of 12 “at risk” children, ages eight to
14. Their young charges came from broken, dysfunctional, abusive, or financially strapped families.
The experience “exposed us to a whole new perspective on society. We saw firsthand another way of
life for many children and families as well as struggles they faced,” Bidwell said. “We were able to see
positive improvements in some of the children’s behavior. This was very rewarding and helped to make
the job a little less stressful. “
He and Katie live in The Villages, Florida, where he plays softball and golf along with indoor volleyball
and water volleyball. His credits include a gold medal for volleyball while competing in the Senior
Olympics. He also is an active church member and usher and was an advisory board member for
construction of a new church. The couple has two sons and two daughters, and five grandchildren.


Loyal Lane

Loyal D. Lane is the 2013-2014 recipient of the Lifetime Award. One of 20 graduates of the Class of
1932, Loyal was born on November 13, 1913, and recently celebrated his 100th birthday.
Born in South Bend, Indiana, as the eldest of six children, Loyal and his family moved to Edwardsburg
when he was 13. His parents acquired a grocery store and filling station across from the train depot
on Michigan 62 where he clerked and performed various tasks. The family later moved to a house on
U.S. 12, the current location of Lunker’s, where there were four cabin units. It became Lane’s Motel
and operated until the 1960s. Loyal and his childhood friends spent time at Pleasant Lake and, during
football seasons, traveled to the University Of Notre Dame where he earned pocket money by selling
refreshments in the Notre Dame Stadium.
Loyal was a cheerleader during the high school basketball seasons. For extra money, he trapped
muskrats at a local pond. He also drove a school bus during his last two years of high school and for a
couple of years following graduation and was paid $30 a month. Despite the Great Depression, Loyal
continued to work, helping with the family business and seeking other employment where available.
In February 1943, Loyal was drafted into the United States Army, training at Fort Custer in Battle
Creek. He and his comrades served in the infantry in North Africa where they escorted officers by
Jeep and transported heavy weapons and supplies. He was injured at the Allied Invasion on Salerno,
Italy, in December of 1943, spending five months in a field hospital in San Pietro, Italy, recovering from
shrapnel injuries, and for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. His younger brother, LeRoy, who had
enlisted in the Navy, was lost at sea on the U.S.S. Tang, a submarine that sank in October of 1944.
Loyal returned to Edwardsburg after his military discharge in 1945 and married Berdean Sweitzer, his
high school sweetheart, and they reared two children, David and Sandie, at their home on Adamsville
Road. In 1952, he was hired by the U.S. Postal Service as a rural mail carrier on one of the larger rural
routes in Edwardsburg. He retired in 1973 after 21 years.
The Lanes traveled with camping friends and tour groups and became members of the Audubon
Society, in which he remains active. They joined the Edwardsburg Area Historical Museum when it was
founded in 1998, and have contributed both memories and memorabilia. He and Berdean, who were
married for nearly 61 years before her death in 2006, also belonged to the Golden Age group.
Loyal continues to volunteer at the museum. He has been a long-standing member of the Edwardsburg
Chapter of the Masonic Lodge and is a member of the Hope United Methodist Church. His daughter,
Sandie; son, David, and one of his grandchildren graduated from Edwardsburg High School, where
Loyal was involved in numerous fundraising efforts, and organizations such as the Band Boosters. He
attended many band concerts and sporting events over the years.
Loyal continues to live in the house that he and Berdean purchased in 1946. He has three
grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He considers it to have been a pleasure to live and work in
the community and to participate in its opportunities and to help with its growth and development.


Mary Montgomery

The late Mary Montgomery has been named a 2013-2014 recipient in the Former Staff Member
category.
A teacher in Edwardsburg for 31 years, she grew up during the Great Depression. She was the greatgreat
granddaughter of Cannon Smith, who, having emigrated from Delaware in 1828, was the first
resident of Milton Township and a founder of the historic Smith’s Chapel.
She graduated from the Edwardsburg Agricultural High School in 1937. She met Otis Montgomery,
four years older, in 1929 at the school drinking fountain and, in her own words, “fell madly in love with
him.” Encouraged by Otis, she enrolled at Western State Teachers’ College (now Western Michigan
University) paying for her education through loans and various jobs. After two years, she began
teaching at the one-room Swamp School in Mason Township.
She and Otis married in 1940 and, while continuing her education, she taught intermittently when her
children, Gene, Lyle, and Jane, were young. After her graduation from Western, she attended graduate
school at Michigan State University. In 1955, she accepted a first grade assignment at Edwardsburg.
She taught kindergarten for four years, but returned to the first grade classroom until her retirement in
1981. She firmly believed that first grade was the most important grade in the public schools, laying the
groundwork for all that followed because of the many skills that had to be mastered in that grade.
She was a leader in the Edwardsburg Methodist Church, and led or contributed to many social and
community organizations.
While teaching, she followed her own children’s activities and served as a Cub Scout den mother for
10 years. She was active in the Parent Teacher Association and the Eastern Star, in which she became
a Worthy Matron. She also was a member of the Emeritus Club, the Monday Evening Club, and the
Golden Age Group, serving the latter as program chair for 13 years. She was active in the Cass County
Historical Society, as well as the Southwestern Michigan College Museum. A founding member of the
Edwardsburg Area Historical Museum, she was a critical source of information about local history as
well as a volunteer and ‘teacher’ for the elementary school classes that continue to tour the facility.
Following her death in 2013, she was awarded the museum’s annual Dr. John B. Sweetland award,
named for the early community leader.
Mary served the Edwardsburg Methodist Church for several years in various leadership capacities,
including treasurer, choir director, and church organist. She and Otis, also a Hall of Fame inductee,
traveled the United States. They joined several Elderhostel vacations for senior citizens as well as made
three trips to Europe. At home, they worked jointly to restore the Smith Chapel and secure its placement
on the National Register of Historic Places. In later years, Mary kept in touch with former students. She
died at the age of 93, remembered as a beloved teacher who always used her gifts to instill kindness
and a love for learning.


Theodore (Ted) Peak

Theodore (Ted) Peak is a 2013-2014 recipient in the Former Staff Member category.
Peak grew up in Terre Haute, Indiana, and graduated in 1953 from Gerstmeyer High School. He
earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Indiana State University with a double major in biological
science and health and physical education. In 1957, he married Peggy Murphy and, in 1964, he
earned his Master of Science in Biological Science while working as a teacher.
He joined Edwardsburg Public Schools in 1961 and, until 1968, was the Edwardsburg Middle School
science teacher and assistant varsity football coach. For three years during that time, he also was
the head tennis coach, and for two years, from 1966-68, he coached varsity track. He then moved
to Cassopolis, where he was the head football coach and golf coach for two years, from 1968-1970,
while teaching physical education and health in that district.
Peak returned to Edwardsburg upon the resignation of Leo Hoffman as head football coach, and
coached the Eddies from 1970 to 1979. From 1970 to 1994, he taught physical education, health,
biology, and physical science. His coaching tenure also included the position of head track coach from
1970 to 1976, and head baseball coach from 1977 to 1989. He also spent a year as the assistant
basketball coach and two years as the assistant high school volleyball coach. From 1984 to 1991, he
was the system-wide Athletic Director, and also served as the Assistant High School Principal for one
year and then two years, respectively.
In 1991, he and Julie Hamilton became the first teachers to start the alternative education program
in which he taught science and math while coaching middle school volleyball for two years. He retired
from Edwardsburg in 1994 along with his wife, Peggy, who was the Edwardsburg school nurse.
For many years during the summer months, Peak patrolled the lakes as a Marine Deputy for the Cass
County Sheriff’s Office. He also coached Little League baseball teams. Additionally, he served on the
Edwardsburg Village Council for a few years and maintained the village cemetery.
Peak characterized his life in Edwardsburg as ‘enjoyable,” and “a great place to raise our family of six
and live a life which I can feel was productive and lots of fun.”