Faces In the Crowd: Jack and June Nehmer

June 6, 2019

By Aaron Michell

In 1968, Jack Nehmer met June Kinney while working together at Evart Products.
Jack, a 1963 Reed City graduate, and June, a ’66 Evart grad, have been inseparable ever since.
Married on June 7th, 1969, Jack and June will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this weekend.
And they’ll be celebrating with over a hundred friends and family members who’ve been there along the way.
They’ll be joined by friends from Evart Products, and friends from the Eagles 4087 and Auxiliary. They’ll be joined by friends they met while delivering mail from the Marion Post Office, and friends they met while managing the Marion Campground.
They’ll be joined by the friends they’ve met while Jack was working as the Marion Village President, and friends they’ve met while he’s been in his current position: Osceola County Chairman of the Board of Commissioners.
For their 50th anniversary this weekend, they’ll be joined by their Evart, Reed City, and Marion families, and they’ll be joined by their kids: Jacqueline, Jack Jr., Russell, Jason, and Chad.
Needless to say, in the past 50 years, the Nehmer’s have gotten to know a lot of people.
Thankfully for us, we finally got to know them. And we found out that these two are more than just a couple of faces in the crowd.

Jack and June Nehmer

Marion Press: We hear you have an anniversary coming up?
June: We’re having our 50th anniversary next Saturday on the 8th. And we thought, we’ll ask a few people – and we ended up [inviting] 160 people!
Jack: Thank goodness there’s a few of them that aren’t coming, otherwise I’d have to get a part-time job! Our anniversary is actually Friday, the 7th, so we’re going to celebrate it to start the second 50 on the 8th.
June: Exactly. I said it won’t happen again, he goes: ’Why not?’ I said, well if you add it up I’ll be 122! No, no, no…

MP: Where are you guys from originally?
Jack: We’ve both always lived in Osceola County; I’m from Reed City, and she’s from Evart.

MP: What brought you together 50 years ago?
Jack: We were working at Evart Products; we met at Evart Products. We met in early 1968. She worked at Evart Products for 32 years until she retired, and I worked there for about five years.

MP: What was life like growing up in Reed City in the 60s?
June: There isn’t much in there nowadays. Mostly school projects that we did. There was the old drugstore – Dykstra’s – that had fountain pop and sundaes. You could go in there and have a great big banana split, and they had the old-fashioned malts. I remember going in there and thinking, I’m 15, I can go in there and get one myself.
Jack: When I was growing up, there used to be 11 churches in Reed City and 13 gas stations. Now, there’s maybe 6 or 7 churches and 1 gas station.

MP: And what was Evart like back then?
June: The theatre was there, that was the biggest thing, the Evart Theatre.
Jack: Both Evart and Reed City had theatres. When I went it was a dime. And if grandma, or my mother gave me a quarter, gosh, I could get three-cent Hersey bars – but they were bigger than Hersey bars. And I could go in, and it was like being a millionaire if I had a quarter. Of course, I was also ten [years old].
June: Back then you would pay eight cents for a dozen eggs; milk was 10, 12 cents; bread was 5 cents back then.

MP: And Jack, you owned the Texaco Gas Station in Luther in the ‘70s. How did that come about?
Jack: Shortly after we were married, I was out of work, and I wondered what am I going to do? And a friend of mine had a gas station in Luther and he closed it. And him and his wife moved [up north] and bought a bar. And so I was talking to him one day, and I said, I didn’t know what I was going to do – I’d been out of work for a couple of months. And he said if you think you might be interested, I’ll let you take over the gas station, and see if you can make a go of it.
So I took it on and did it for a little more than three years – maybe from ‘73 to ‘76. I was a glutton for punishment, and I was young and foolish. My shortest day was 10 hours a day on Sunday. Typically it was 16 hours a day.

MP: And June, you worked at Evart Products until you retired, correct?
June: I worked there for 32 years and 8 months.
Jack: And she could probably tell you the hours and the minutes too!
June: A gal came in and said you’re going to retire on Friday? I said, no, I’m going to retire on Monday. I want exactly eight months, no half days – I wanted my full checks!

MP: And Jack, you worked there before taking over the gas station?
Jack: We met there, and I worked there for five years. Then I left and took over the gas station. Then I went to work for Great Plains – the bottle gas company on M-66 down by the youth home on the Muskegon River. Eventually I became the [Great Plains] company rep for the state. Then, after that I left and went into business as a dealer for myself. I was probably with Great Plains for about 10 years.

Jack and June on their way to play The Price is Right at the casino.

MP: And eventually, you guys made your way to Marion.
Jack: When the gas went up to two dollars a gallon, I had just been hired up here to run mail. And I was driving from Hersey to here – a pretty good jaunt first thing in the morning; get the eyes open anyways.
So after six or seven years, she retired. And I thought, with the price of gas going up to two dollars a gallon, let’s move up to Marion.
June: We actually bought a trailer and moved to the [Veteran’s Memorial] park in the summer. And then we moved back to our house in [Hersey] in the fall, so we could just save on gas; he was getting a tank of gas every two days.
And when I was there, the Mayor [of Marion] said: ‘Hey I need to see you in my office,” and I didn’t even know who he was.. And he said, “I need a manager for the campground.”
And I said, ‘No, I’m not working, I’m retired.’ And he said: ‘No, I want to talk to you – let’s go to the park.’
So we went to the park and he said: ‘You have your trailer here already, you can just go in, and this is what you have to do.’ So he hired me, and I worked 17 years running the campground.
Jack: We ran the park for 17 years.

MP: So you moved here in ’99, worked for the post office, managed the campground, and you also got involved with the Eagles, correct?
Jack: We’ve both been involved in the Eagles quite a bit, and their theme is “People helping People.”
There had always been a stigma about the Eagles, and a lot people thought it was just another bar. I’ve tried to make efforts to show the community that we weren’t just a bar, that we’re actually a family-oriented club.
June: You can go in and order chicken strips, pizzas, hamburgers. French fries. A lot of people just come in and eat. You can play pool. There’s a lot of activities that you can do without drinking.
Jack: Between the people that we’ve met and serviced at the post office, the ones at Evart Products, and then working at the campground for 17 years, we’ve met a lot of people.
June: A lot of people. They call me from all over. Grand Rapids, Bay City, Owosso, they call me and say, hey, how are you guys doing? I send them Christmas cards, and they send me back Christmas cards. It’s just friends who would come up every summer for a week or two.

MP: What was your favorite part of running mail and running the campground?
Jack: All the people that you got to know on your route. And it was a good job. There isn’t anything bad I can say about the post office.
June: Except for the winter! Just getting to know the people, that’s been the best part.

MP: And Jack, you got involved with the Village, correct?
Jack: When [former Mayor] Doug Cutler was about ready to retire, he came to me and said I understand that you’re thinking about maybe retiring from the post office. And I said, well, June and I have talked about it. He said, well, I’m thinking about leaving; do you think you might be interested in running for village president? I thought about it for a couple of days and I said, yeah, I guess I would.
So I was elected in November of 2007, and I still hung onto my post office job, working full-time until February of ’08. Then I finally decided between being involved with the Eagles and with the village and I left [the post office].

MP: So you were President of the Eagles, Village President, and now you’re the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for Osceola County. That’s a lot to take on. What is it about Marion and Osceola County that keeps you going?
Jack: We’ve pretty much always lived in Osceola County. We feel that kinship, whether it’s Reed City, or Evart, or Marion. Since I’ve been in Marion, I’ve always had the feeling that a lot of people in Marion felt like they were kind of at the edge of the Earth, and we were kind of the last to get a lot of things. So I’ve tried to push that to the forefront. We’ve lived in the county all of our lives, and we don’t have any desire to go anywhere else. This is where we were raised and we try to do what we can.
June: We’ve established a funeral plot where we’re going to be buried in Greenwood Cemetery out here.
Jack: My kids and my brothers ask how come you’re not going to be buried in Reed City? Because we’re from Marion and that’s where we’re going to be.
June: They’ll ask: ‘Why aren’t you going to be [buried] with family and friends?’ Half of my family is at the Evart grounds, and the other ones are in Reed City. But this has been our family for twenty years.
Jack: It’s still part of Osceola County, and we’ve lived here for twenty years, and we plan to live for, hopefully, a little bit longer.

MP: What is the key to 50 years of marriage?
Jack: Love and mutual respect. That would be the two most key items. And listening.
June: Yeah, I tell him off every day! We can disagree on something and still have an opinion on either side. If he needs something, he’ll ask. He doesn’t say: ‘We’re doing this.’ We kind of agree, okay, let’s do this. If we disagree on something, we think it out first. Life is too short to not get along.
Jack: You need to respect the other person, and what their opinion is. I don’t think my mother raised a dictator.
June: You can’t hold grudges.

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