I am pleased to formally announce that the Rebel Hall of Fame committee met last month to review nominations, and selected three alumni who have contributed substantially to the community for induction into the Hall, in an upcoming ceremony to be held the evening of February 20.
Elected in 1963 as only the fourth mayor of the “new” City of Wyoming, he was instrumental in providing leadership in overcoming many obstacles and ultimately bringing badly needed Lake Michigan water to the growing community. At the same time, he worked tirelessly to complete important street and sewer upgrades despite money shortages, and his efforts overall effectively denied any more attempts by the City of Grand Rapids to annex key industrial areas, including substantial portions of the Godfrey-Lee school district. Mayor Wiest also instituted the
city’s parks and recreation department. As a student at Lee High School, he was one of the founding members of the new Lee High School model airplane club and upon graduation he attended Davenport College, eventually opening an auto supply store in Wyoming. Following his terms as Mayor, in 1970 he was appointed by the Governor to sit on the State Liquor Control Commission where he continued to serve until his untimely death in 1981.
An active student at Lee High School, he was involved in the speech and drama club, mixed chorus, operetta, and the Glee Club. He was elected vice president of his junior and senior class and served as advertising manager for both the yearbook and student newspaper. While still a student at Lee, Jay served the community as a volunteer fire fighter and eventually was appointed the volunteer chief of the former Galewood-Urbandale-Burlingame department. Shortly after incorporation as a city, he was appointed the first full-time fire chief in 1961, a position he held until his retirement in 1982. Chief Waalkes provided strong leadership throughout the expansion of a city-wide professional fire fighting and prevention service. He also served his country as second lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, during World War II earning four Air Medals along with the Distinguished Flying Cross, while credited with fifty-one missions over Europe, which included piloting a B-17 bomber.
An active student, Steven was engaged in the athletic program by providing managerial services and support for football, basketball, baseball and track. He was also a member of the Library Club, Varsity Club and Chess Club. Following his high school graduation, Steven attended and graduated from Central Michigan University in 1980 whereupon he started up a small business accounting and tax service located in the Godfrey-Lee community. Having acquired an interest in softball, Steven’s adult teams went on to win more than twenty-five state championships and eight world championships earning him induction into the Michigan USSSA Hall of Fame in 2007 in the sponsor category. In all, Steven has provided sponsorship and financial support to over one hundred sports teams on various age levels as well as for Lee High School athletic teams and Senior Safe Night activities.
The Rebel Hall of Fame was established in 2007 to recognize alumni and other individuals associated with Godfrey-Lee Public Schools for their respective achievements and contributions to society. The selection committee meets annually following the November 1 deadline for submission of nominations and is comprised of members representing the Board of Education, district and school administration, current and former faculty, alumni and the Godfrey-Lee community. Induction ceremonies are scheduled annually between home girls and boys varsity basketball games.
This year’s induction will be held on Friday, February 20 at the conclusion of the boys’ varsity basketball game vs. Calvin Christian (approximately 7 pm).