Up and Down the River by Cathy Johnson and guest writers is published weekly in the Big Rapids Pioneer.
(The article reprinted below first appeared in May of 2009. We are reprinting it in tribute to a woman whose life exemplified what citizenship is all about. Marian passed away on February 9, 2018, but her influence on this community will live on.)
Those two simple words – thank you – don’t seem to be enough to acknowledge the efforts of tireless volunteers such as the woman who received the Artworks Patron of the Arts and Humanities Award last night at the annual Artworks Gala. Marian Davis Beadle is a familiar and long-time (not quite life-time) resident of Big Rapids, who is both proud and supportive of the community in which she grew up and has resided for most of her life.
Coming here from Cadillac at age three, Marian lived with her family on Mill Street, moving several years later to Maple Street. Her primary and secondary education years were spent at Lincoln School (now the Big Rapids Public Library) for the elementary grades, and junior and senior high were conducted at the building on North State Street which now belongs to Crossroads. Marian attended both Ferris Institute (now Ferris State University) and the University of Michigan. When her husband Charles joined Martz and Shapley Pharmacy (at its former location on Michigan Avenue) as a pharmacist/owner in 1953, they moved back to Big Rapids and have lived here ever since.
And what has she accomplished in the years following? She and her husband raised two children, Barbara and Tom, both of whom attended Riverview School and graduated from Big Rapids High School. While her children were in school, Marian “did the mom thing,” belonging and contributing to the Riverview PTA, den mothering for the Cub Scouts, and teaching Sunday School at the United Church. Other organizations that benefited from her participation were the Junior Women’s Club, AAUW, the Mecosta County General Hospital Auxiliary, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, the Good Neighbors Association, and the Big Rapids Community Library Board.
It was through her efforts in 1987 that Big Rapids was reminded that the Zinnia Festival had started here 50 years prior and it would be fitting to again recognize the zinnia as the city’s official flower. Big Rapids became the Zinnia Capital of the Nation, and in the ensuing years, the city has provided zinnias free of charge for citizens to plant. Marian’s hard work has helped make our little corner of the world just a bit more beautiful.
Not one to shirk civic responsibility, Marian assisted in the revision of the Big Rapids City Charter, which was adopted in 1992. And, in her own words, “I was named an Ambassador of the City by the Mecosta County Chamber of Commerce in 2000 which epitomizes how I sincerely feel about Big Rapids.” She and her husband are also “strong believers” in the Mecosta County Community Foundation.
Any one of these examples would stand alone as a lifetime accomplishment, but there is one more – it is what you are reading right now. As a member of the Humanities Council of West Michigan, Marian began editing the column “Up and Down the River” for the Pioneer 18 years ago. At first it ran on a semi-regular basis, but eventually became a weekly feature of the Saturday edition. Marian tirelessly cajoled, persuaded, and convinced “regular folks” to “write an article about …….” – whatever unique, different, or fabulous thing they had recently done. And then, after carefully editing it, she would send it along to the newspaper which would publish it for the Pioneer readership to enjoy. Articles about travel, history, artistic endeavors, memorable personalities, local color – “Up and Down the River” was a vehicle for them all.
And so, Marian, thanks for all those articles, those memories, some of which were compiled into a published anthology of columns from 1990-1998. Congratulations on being this year’s Artworks Patron of the Arts and Humanities. Big Rapids is definitely a better place because you live here. Your efforts have touched and will continue to touch more lives than you will ever know.
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