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In Remembrance

Marj Federowski

Marjorie Federowski, 90, one of the Edwardsburg Area Museum’s founding members, and a premier leader and volunteer in Cass County, died Feb. 27.

Federowski’s knowledge of Edwardsburg history came naturally through her genealogical connections to Edwardsburg pioneers Abiel Silver and Cyrus Bacon. Her mother, Lula C. Bacon Silver, was married first to Guernsey Bacon, direct descendent of Cyrus Bacon, with whom she had three children, Thelma, Carrie, and Albert Bacon. After the elder Bacon died, she married Benjamin Silver, a direct descendent of Abiel Silver, an Edwardsburg merchant who platted the Silver addition in the Village of Edwardsburg. Marj (as she was commonly called) and her sister, Frances, were born of that union.

Marj grew up in Edwardsburg and was a life member of the historic Edwardsburg Presbyterian Church where she served as an elder and treasurer. Throughout her life, she readily shared her knowledge of early Edwardsburg social, cultural and religious life, including facts about the traveling ministers who served the early community, and the homes and locations in which church meetings were held. Although she lived near Cassopolis for many years with her husband, Alex, who died in 2012, she maintained close contacts with her hometown and with the museum, of which she was an avid supporter.  In 2007-2008, she was an Edwardsburg Public Schools Hall of Fame inaugural inductee and, in 2012, she was named the museum’s recipient of the John B. Sweetland Award for her inspirational leadership and community contributions.

She was the valedictorian of the Edwardsburg High School class of 1947. As a teenager, she also ran a nursery school part-time.  A family friend, Ada Beardsley, whose husband, Charles, was president of Miles Corporation, was impressed with her work and the couple paid most of Marj’s way through Western Michigan University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in library science and English (and also a master’s degree). She became Cass County’s librarian at the age of 24, and was a driving force behind the effort to create a district library when library funding was cut by the Cass County Board of Commissioners. A founding member of Friends of the Library, she shepherded the construction of a new library building and ensured the library’s funding in perpetuity (1993) by leading the effort to see a millage vote passed. She also was a motivator behind the construction of the current Edwardsburg Library in 1995.

Federowski played an integral part in the establishment of the Cass County Council on Aging’s $2 million facility as the committee co-chair to raise funds to build the Edward R. Lowe Center. A volunteer at the COA, she served its board of directors as both a vice president and president.

Although she never appeared in one of its productions, Federowski was a founding member of the Barn Swallow Theatre. She was the longtime secretary of the Cass County Historical Commission, and, as a two-term member of the Cass County Board of Commissioners, she updated the budget process.

Over the years, Federowski served in key positions on numerous county and regional boards and agencies, and received many individual achievement and leadership awards. In 1999, upon a nomination by the Council on Aging, she was named Michigan’s Senior Citizen of the Year.