Rod and Susan Wilson named Christmas parade grand marshals

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published July 7, 2015

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ROCHESTER — This winter, longtime Rochester residents Rod and Susan Wilson will lead the 64th annual Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade as its grand marshals.

“We feel this is one of the highest honors anybody in the community could receive, and we feel very honored to be selected,” said Rod Wilson.

“It’s a huge honor,” Susan Wilson added.

Each year, the Parade Committee seeks nominations from the public for a parade grand marshal. The committee then reviews the nominations and makes a selection. The Wilsons were named grand marshals of the 64th annual parade in recognition of their “untiring efforts to preserve the history of the greater Rochester area,” according to parade officials.

Over the years, the couple has spearheaded numerous restoration and educational efforts, including the restoration and placement of a 1938 Marvin Beerbohm Works Progress Administration mural in the Rochester Community Schools administration building, the restoration of Rochester’s World War II honor roll and the painting of the 1880 Griggs Brothers/Rochester Elevator Co. Grain Elevator. Rod has also worked with local agencies to develop interpretive signs for historic sites along the Paint Creek Trail, and he developed and now leads downtown Rochester walking history tours.

Rod and Susan, who have long been active in the Rochester Area Jaycees and a number of local historical groups, are both descendants of Revolutionary War soldiers. Rod has served as president of the Rochester-Avon Historical Society twice. During his tenure, the society won the State History Award from the Historical Society of Michigan, the highest recognition presented by the state’s official historical society. That year, in 2011, Rod was also honored with the Distinguished Volunteer Service Award for his “countless hours of dedication to preservation in the greater Rochester community.” Rod and Susan’s current goal is the acquisition and rehabilitation of a downtown Rochester theater.

Pat McKay, supervisor of interpretive services at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm, said the Wilsons are “passionate residents promoting the rich heritage of the greater Rochester-area community.”

“Our community will benefit for years to come because of their efforts,” he said in a statement.

“We understand we’ve done a lot in the community, but it hasn’t been just us,” Rod said. “Everything we have done has been with other people involved, so without all those other people, we are nothing.”

The couple, who have been married for 54 years, raised two daughters in Rochester and are now grandparents to four granddaughters ranging in age from 18 to 25 years old.

Susan said the parade is a big part of the Wilson family. The couple has been in the parade numerous times — accompanying a number of Rochester-Avon Historical Society and Rochester Area Jaycees floats, as well as numerous school-related floats with their daughters.

“We watched for many years, too,” she said. “Our daughters have been to the parade all their lives.”

The Wilsons will be honored at the annual Grand Marshal Celebration at Great Oaks Country Club on Dec. 3. The 64th annual Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade will be held on Sunday, Dec. 6, starting from the corner of Tienken and Rochester roads at 2 p.m.

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