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Published: Wednesday, 8/8/2007

Frenchtown Township official had strong belief in public service

MONROE Bernard J. Felder, 77, an elected official for 30 years in Monroe County s Frenchtown Township, died of cancer Monday in his home.

He was in poor health the last year and seriously ill the last three months.

Mr. Felder was clerk of Frenchtown Township for 22 years, from 1970 to 1992.

He believed in service, his daughter Laura Hehl said. He believed we were put here to serve others and to serve our community. We were taught that as kids, and that was what he was doing.

After leaving the clerk s office, he took four years off before he was elected to the Frenchtown Township board, on which he served eight years. A Democrat, he rallied to win re-election in the August, 2004, primary.

He had a wonderful sense of humor, daughter Laura said. He was a highly intelligent man who was very warm and great to be around. That came through his family life and that came through his political life.

When he was elected clerk, Mr. Felder and his family lived in a beach area of the township, once a spot where Detroit-area families spent summers.

The homes later became permanent residences, and Mr. Felder helped garner support for services needed by such a community paved roads, sewers, and dikes, daughter Susan Felder said.

When Mr. Felder took office as clerk, the township hall was no bigger than a small apartment and he was one of four people working there, daughter Susan said. He helped figure out how to get funding for a new township hall, a skill he put to use for many other projects, from senior citizens and recreation centers to sewers.

Again and again, he put so much into motion because, when people said, No, you can t, he d say, Let s figure out how, daughter Susan said.

He also took pride in the fire stations, library branch, and senior citizens recreation center built during his tenure.

Mr. Felder was a former president of the Baycrest Beach Association and a former president of the township planning commission. He later chaired the township resort authority, which he helped found.

He was a former chairman of the Monroe County Planning Commission. He was a member of the Frenchtown Senior Citizens board until May.

Mr. Felder was a 1948 graduate of Monroe Catholic Central High School. He attended Michigan State University and Syracuse University.

He was an Air Force veteran and served in Alaska during the Korean War. He returned to Monroe and, in the 1950s, owned Felder Office Machine Sales and Service on Front Street. He worked a short time at La-Z-Boy.

He was a member of St. John the Baptist Church, Monroe, where he was an usher, Eucharistic minister, and lector.

Surviving are his wife, Marvel, whom he married July 7, 1951; sons, Mark and Matthew; daughters, Susan Felder, Laura Hehl, Beth McCullough, and Karen Heiserman; 14 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Rupp Funeral Home, Monroe, after 4 p.m. today, with a Rosary service at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the mortuary. Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday in St. John the Baptist Church, where the body will be after 9:30 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to Mercy Memorial Hospice of Monroe.



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