By Barb Pert Templeton
When Rita M. Roehrig, 98, of Marine City passed away on Nov. 1 the loss of such a respected longtime public servant was certainly difficult, but having her two daughters currently serving on the Marine City Commission surely ensures her legacy.
Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Hendrick has served the city for more than a decade and her sister, Commissioner Rita Roehrig, joined the ranks in Nov. 2022, after being elected to a four-year-term. Their mom spent nearly 20 years as clerk, treasurer and supervisor in Ira Township before moving to Marine City where she spent eight years as a member of the city commission.
During a regular Marine City Commission meeting on Nov. 2, the demise of Mrs. Roehrig was lamented by both residents and commissioners alike.
During the commissioner privilege portion of the meeting Roehrig and Hendrick thanked everyone for their kind thoughts and prayers.
“My Mom will be missed as a parent and as someone who truly cared about the community.” Roehrig said.
“I’d like to thank everybody for all their kinds words. She was something,” Hendrick added. “Her and I have been going to these meetings since she moved up here in 1995 and she went to these meeting up to the time she was 90.”
“She lived to 98, she lived a good life, she did a lot of things, she always cared about her community she always cared about money and transparency and she always listened,” Hendrick continued. “She was a great mom to all of us and we’re really going to miss her.”
Marine City resident Rosalie Skwiers spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting to offer her condolences and sympathy to the family. She also shared her own long history and friendship with Roehrig as they worked together in the city.
Skwiers described Roehrig as a ‘beacon for transparency’ in local politics in the city including getting the city commission meetings filmed on cable television for the public. She also noted that she and Roehrig used to share meeting packets as costs were 25 cents a page.
“Yet, she never tooted her own horn,” Skwiers said. “When you look at her life in 1920 women got the right to vote and she was born in 1925. That these women (referring to Roehrig’s daughters currently serving on the Marine City Commission) even want to be involved in politics is a miracle because their mother really, really walked a hard road. Politics for women was just not a fashionable thing at that time.”
Skwiers said Roehrig used to say thank God I have big kids because she was on the school board and they got beat up a lot but they were big enough to take it. She also used her own six kids to fill sandbags when there was a flood in the city.
“They had loving parents but they worked really hard because their mother was on these boards,” Skwiers said.
Another story shared was about how she and Roehrig went to a fundraiser for then Congresswoman Candice Miller and how as soon as Rita walked into the place everyone knew her.
“Later Candice was a supervisor in Harrison Township and it turned out whenever she needed advice as a supervisor, she called Rita; that was pretty cool,” Skwiers said. “I wish you my condolences and you certainly should be very, very proud of your mother and you certainly are walking on the shoulders of a giant.”
City officials offers condolences
During administrative and commissioner privilege portions of the agenda, several officials also offered up their condolences.
“Your mom was an excellent steward to our community, so my condolences to you and your family,” Marine City Manager Scott Adkins said.
Commissioner William Klaassen noted that he first met Mrs. Roehrig when she was the supervisor in Ira Township and she also filled in as an alternate city manager in Marine City when he was the building inspector.
“I’ve known Rita a long time and my condolences to her family and everybody that knew her,” Klaassen said. “She was a proud and honest person who listened to people and got the job done.”
“This is never an easy thing but it’s an unfortunate thing, so my condolence’s,” Commissioner Jacob Bryson said.
“My sincerest condolences Lisa and Rita and Rosalee thanks for giving us some background on what a wonderful women Rita was,” Commissioner Brian Ross said.
“My condolences for your mom, she was a great woman,” Mayor Jennifer Vandenbossche said.