By Paul Garrod
LAWRENCE – A lifelong resident of Lawrence and an active community member will be honored June 11 by the community during an open house.
Charles “Chuck” Moden, 89, graduated from Lawrence High School in 1951, where he played baseball and basketball. He then went to work as a meat cutter at the former Market Basket in Kalamazoo, from 1952 to January 1953. He then enlisted in the Navy, where he served until October 1957. Following his Navy enlistment, he returned as a meat cutter, this time for Karl’s Market, Kalamazoo.
Moden and business partner, the late George Moses of Lawrence, opened and operated M & M grocery store, from 1965 to 1980. The two men purchased the former IGA grocery store in downtown Lawrence from Doan Griffin and operated there for two years, before moving the business to a new building south of downtown. Moden said Harold Conklin, then a Lawrence High School student, really helped to get the business going.
Moden said of Moses, his business partner, “You couldn’t ask for a better partner. We never had words.”
Following his Lawrence business venture, Moden worked in the grocery business as a meat cutter for the former E&H grocery store, now Save-A-Lot, in Paw Paw, until he retired in 1995, at age 62. He continued to work until he reached the age of 80.
He is a former Village of Lawrence council member, serving parts of two decades during the 1970s and 80s for a total of 12 years. He was a council member when then-Village Council President Gene Carr traveled to the state capitol to seek funding for the village’s first water tower. Carr was successful in seeking grant funding for the entire water tower project, taking the financial burden off of the village residents.
“I learned a lot on that village council,” said Moden, who also praised the work of Paul McGowan, another village council member during that time. “Some ideas the state wouldn’t let you pursue,” said Moden. He added, “It was the little towns that knew where to spend it.”
Moden also serves as the current commander of the American Legion Hess-Eastman Post 174, Lawrence, a position he has held since 2005. He previously held the position in 1962 and 1963, as well as 1972 and 1973. In recent years, Moden helped organize a Memorial Day service at dusk at Lawrence Veterans Memorial at Hill Cemetery, where the names of over 1,200 Lawrence area veterans, beginning with World War I, are listed on white paper bags with a small candle inside. The luminary is then lit at dusk.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Moden of the project. “It’s rewarding to do that.”
Looking back at his long life, Moden said, “This town has been good to me, very, very good to me,” said Moden. He and his wife, Judy, have been married for 58 years. They have two grown children, Wendy (Dale) Murney and Shellie (Rocky) Johnson; and three grandchildren.
Moden remains active within the school district, serving as president of the Lawrence Alumni Association since 2005. He volunteered as bookkeeper of boys and girls basketball games for 41 and 35 years, respectively. He also was bookkeeper for Lawrence football for 35 years.
“I’ve been so darn lucky in my life. I should never be caught complaining,” said Moden.
He is also known unofficially as the town’s historian, to which he says, “I’m not an historian, but a collector. Moden has a collection of Lawrence memorabilia, including postcards and other items.
“I just enjoy doing that stuff,” said Moden.
“Chuck Moden Day” will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Lawrence American Legion Hall. Refreshments will be served.