525 East Genesee Street, Frankenmuth MI, 48734
Considering that the students of the Frankenmuth High School Class of 2020 completed the last three months of their high school careers at home and missed out on prom and spring athletics, it may seem ironic to call them lucky, but in one important way, they are. After all, they are beginning their adult lives at a time when people are not only talking about equality, but taking it seriously. Almost nobody questions the idea of a woman entering the field of hotel and restaurant management in 2020, but in 1963, when Judy Zehnder Keller graduated from Frankenmuth High School, times were far different.
In fact, Judy’s career has been defined by her strength and dedication to prove that women can and will succeed, even when others may not want or expect them to. After her graduation in 1963, Judy attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Hotel and Restaurant Management and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology. Afterward, she spent six months at a German gourmet cooking school, which gave her the background in the German language and German culture that she has used to help make Frankenmuth the attraction that it is.
In the 1980s, after 25 years of working at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant, Judy decided to take the family business in a new direction, but securing financing as a woman in the 1980s was not easy. Fortunately, Judy persevered, and the Bavarian Inn Lodge now can boast of 360 guest rooms, banquet facilities that can accommodate 500 people, two gift shops, and a Family Fun Center with pools, water slides, spas, and an indoor 18-hole miniature golf course.
Judy is also responsible for developing gift shops on Main Street and at River Place, and there are currently 12 retail stores under her leadership. She was the first woman elected to the Frankenmuth City Council, serving 12 years from 1982-1994. She was the first female Rotarian of the 85 member Frankenmuth Noon Rotary Club, a club for which she served as the first female president. The city council called on Judy to form the official Frankenmuth Sister City Committee, which she headed for 25 years. Judy’s love and appreciation of German culture led her to work with local school administrators to reintroduce the German language program in the Frankenmuth School District and St. Lorenz, programs that are still thriving today. She still is involved with Sister City exchanges with Gunzenhausen and has escorted many students and families on annual trips to study, learn, and enjoy Germany.
While she was building businesses, winning awards, and helping others, Judy raised three children with her husband Don. While Michael, Martha, and William were growing up and attending school, Judy volunteered her time as a softball and baseball coach and was involved in many of her kids’ activities. Today, Judy has five grandchildren and is very proud of her entire family.
Judy’s myriad accomplishments and awards are instructive to anyone who faces obstacles and long odds. They tell us not to quit and not to listen to those who tell us we can’t do something. They tell us to think of our community and to think of those less fortunate than we are. They tell us to give our time and our enthusiasm to others. Judy Zehnder Keller is a proud citizen and booster of Frankenmuth, and we’re proud to call her “Alumnus of the Year.”
Known by nearly every student in FSD for her kindness, Kathy Morin has been building positive relationships with young people using her smile and the ever-popular Slurpee.
A native of Bridgeport, Kathy began her business career as a manager at McDonald’s for 16 years, 10 of those years with Tony D’Anna at McDonald’s of Frankenmuth before she became the proud owner of the 7-Eleven franchise.
2020 marks a special anniversary for the Frankenmuth 7-Eleven and Kathy Morin. This is the year that she celebrates 25 years in business. And there is much to celebrate!
During the course of the past 25 years, Kathy has been involved with the Frankenmuth School District. While students may know her via the Slurpees, her reach goes far beyond those coupons.
She has hosted numerous “Walk to School” days, supported the “end of the year walks” with classrooms, worked closely with teachers for their reading incentives, sponsored library challenges, and provided prizes/snacks/pop/coupons for List Elementary’s Carnivals. Kathy is active with homecoming activities and the Frankenmuth Athletic Association’s concession sales. All of this — donated.
But, Kathy’s favorite program – the one she feels is the most passionate about – is supporting our community’s students with special needs. Working closely with the school district, Morin provides a positive real-world work environment at 7-Eleven for our learners as they gain experience in the work force. Additionally, because the students complete their tasks in uniform and with a nametag, their confidence and self-esteem soar.
“It’s a great feeling when you see the faces of the parents of these outstanding young people,” Morin commented. “The parents are proud and the students are proud of themselves and their work.”
Morin lives in Frankenmuth with her mother, Joan. Her daughter, Kristi, is a graduate of Frankenmuth High School and lives in Spaulding with her husband, Aaron. She also has a special extended family in Frankenmuth and considers herself totally invested in the community.
“The children of Frankenmuth are everyone’s future, of course,” Morin continued. “And in my case specifically, they are my future customers and a few will even be my future employees.”
As our 2020 Champion of Children, FSD is taking this opportunity to say ‘Oh thank heaven for 7-Eleven’…and especially KATHY MORIN!