New book highlights Tad Poel's 'Focus on People'

Alex Doty • Dec 4, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Local historian Wallace Ewing and Loutit District Library genealogy specialist Jeanette Weiden recently turned their focus on the columns of former Grand Haven Tribune editor Clarence “Tad” Poel for their recently released book, “Focus on People.”

The new book, which Ewing noted is available at The Bookman and Tri-Cities Historical Museum, contains a curated selection of columns written by Poel that profile the many people whose lives helped shape the history of the area.

Over the course of his long career with the Tribune, Poel wrote about people who contributed to the community’s history in small and large ways via his “Focus on People” columns.

“He did hundreds, maybe thousands of columns,” Ewing said. “So there was a bunch.”

For the book, Ewing and Weiden selected dozens of Poel’s subjects to highlight. At the conclusion of each column, Ewing and Weiden added more information about the individual or topic Tad featured that day.

According to Ewing, criteria for being selected for inclusion in the book were that the person highlighted in the column had to no longer be alive and they had to have contributed something to local historical significance.

“For me, it was the history that that should be important,” Ewing said. “A third (criteria) was my subjective reaction to it.”

In all, Ewing and Weiden came up with about 65 people to focus their attention on, a process that uncovered many family and friends who had been highlighted by Poel at some point in his columns.

“I think from the start to the publication was about two and a half years,” Ewing said. “I think one of the most difficult things was finding photographs.”

Ewing noted that while some of the articles and archives of Poel’s columns at the library had photographs, there were some instances that they were unusable or other photographs were needed. This caused Ewing to reach out to relatives and extended family in order to find usable photos.

Ewing said he’s happy with the reception of the book, and also proud of the way the book keeps some of Poel’s stories alive.

“(The book) reminds people again of what he did to promote history in the Tri-Cities area,” Ewing said.

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