Prestigious Governor John B. Swainson Award Presented to Houghton, Wayne County Officials

Contact:  Casey Kremers (517) 373-5578
Agency: History, Arts and Libraries

May 20, 2002


William Anderson, Director of the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries, and Michigan Historical Commission President William Whitbeck today recognized two outstanding public officials with the prestigious Governor John B. Swainson Award. Houghton Police Chief Ralph Raffaelli and Frank Rembisz, Director of the Wayne County Office on Aging, received the award during the Michigan Week kickoff at the State Capitol.


The Swainson Award is presented by the Michigan Historical Commission to state, county or municipal employees who have contributed to the preservation of Michigan history even though such activities are not part of their primary job responsibility. It was established in honor of John B. Swainson, Michigan's 40th governor and a strong advocate for preserving the state's heritage.


"Police Chief Ralph Raffaelli and Frank Rembisz have worked hard to keep important pieces of Michigan's history alive," said Anderson. "Thanks to their dedication, Michigan residents can enjoy learning about our state's rich heritage well into the future."


Police Chief Ralph Raffaelli's collection of photographs of Houghton's people, places and things has become a historical treasure for the city's residents and visitors. Photos from his collection appear in displays at numerous local businesses and along the city's historical walking tour and were featured inside the city's nationally recognized snow house exhibit, sparking an interest in the area's history.


Frank Rembisz, Director of the Wayne County Office on Aging and a Hamtramck resident, made an extraordinary effort to preserve the memory of a former indigent care complex in Westland, once known as Eloise. He started the Eloise and Wayne County General Hospital Museum, as well as a Friends of Eloise group, and has shared his knowledge of the institution's history with many.