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The MizeFamily and the Rose Garden

In 1997 theCity of Saugatuckannounced that it had been given nearly $450, 000 for a rose garden. The moneywas a bequest from Roxie Ann Mire who wanted the garden dedicated in honor of herbrother Sam, and his wife, Doris. The cry went outfox information on Roxie andthe Iife of her family in the area, to try to fineout what kind of a person would leave nearly a had million dollars to amunicipality for flowers. The first article below was a result of localresearch and the information gleaned about her life was shared duringthe dedication.

Two otherprofiles following were received later. The first, primarily abort Roxie, waswritten by a Walgreen employee who knew her. The second biographical sketch,mainly about Sam, was written by a colleague at Northern Trust.

Roxie Ann andSamuel J. Mize came to Laketown Township, AlleganCounty, Michigan, with their parents, Wesley A. and Ida (McClurg)Mize shortly before the start of World War I. Originally from the Knoxville,Tennessee area the family had stopped off for a brief business venture nearRensselaer, Indiana, where the parents met Frederick Wagner, who had purchaseda farm on the Beeline Road, Laketown Township. Hetold the Mize family that a farm near his acreage in Michigan was for sale and recommended thatthey purchase it and try the farming business.

Both Sam andRoxie attended the Gibson School and then moved on to Saugatuck High School.Roxie was president of the graduating class of 1931. The following year, August4, 1932, their father, Wesley, was killed following the accidental discharge ofa shotgun which had been kept in the barn to shoot crows and hawks that werethreatening their crops and livestock.

Mother, Ida, kept up the farm,located in sections 26 and 27 of Laketown Township,with land both east and west of 64th Street, and both north and south of 138thAvenue. Although they had some fruit trees the hilly, sandy soil of the areawas best suited for small berries, mostly dewberries and blackberries, whichthe Mize family sold from a small stand near the house. After both Roxie andSam finished high school their mother moved to the Chicago area and took a job to obtainadditional income to pay for their schooling. "She always pushed herchildren to go to school and get as much education as they could,"observed former neighbor Georgia (Wagner) Van Andel.

 

Aftergraduation from Saugatuck High School in 1931 Roxie Ann went to work in theoffice of Walgreen Drug Co. in Chicago, visitingher Laketown Township home duringvacations and on weekends.

 

Between highschool and college Sam worked for the Fruit Growers State Bank in Saugatuck, apredecessor to Shoreline Bank. He earned a bachelor's degree from Albion Collegeand a law degree from Northwestern University in Illinois.After graduation he went to work for the Northern Trust Co. as an attorney inthe bank's trust department, eventually being named vice-president.

 

He retired in1975 but continued with Northern Trust as a consultant. He and Doris moved to ahome on Silver Lake,a bayou on the north side of the Kalamazoo River east of Saugatuck,where he was known for his colorful rose garden. Joan (Anderson)Valleau, a neighbor on Silver Lakesaid that Mize was "something of an authority" on roses and belongedto the American Rose Society. "He believed in digging a huge hole, so theroots could be spread. And decomposed carp was a favorite fertilzer.If any of the kids found a dead fish by the shore they would go running for Mr.Mize."

 

The flowers began at the house andsloped downhill to the water, even lining the beach when the water level waslower and Silver Lake had a beach. He frequently broughtcut roses as gifts for neighbors. In the springtime the hill was covered withthe color of daffodils and other spring bulbs.

Roxieon her 25th anniversary with Walgreen in 1973.

 

Mrs. Valleau said that Sam and his wife, Doris, were "lovely people" and willing to lend a kind earto a teenage neighbor. She also remembers trips to Chicago on the train when Sam would take herinto a restaurant in the banking district for a sweet roll and milk.

 

In 1957 IdaMize died leaving the farmhouse to Roxie, while Sam and Doris took over ownershipof two other farm plots. "Roxie Ann loved that old house," Murlyn (Kasbohm) Vollink said.; "And lovedbeing part of the community." Roxie remodeled the old farmhouse in themid-1970s with the expectation that it would be a retirement home, but a longbout with glaucoma and other health problems kept her in Chicago for extended periods.

 

On November 2,1983, Sam and Doris left Silver Lake for their winter home in Arkansas. Just hours after their departurethe car skidded on wet pavement on I-57 near Kankakee, Illinois.Sam, then 73, died in the crash and Doris died in Chicago July 15, 1984, as aresult of complications following injuries sustained in the accident.

 

Roxie Ann Mizedied at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago, January 26, 1996, at the age of 82after a long illness with cancer. Prior to her death, in December of 1995, shehad created a living trust and one of the provisions was that on her death,"If the home and accompanying land which I own on 64th Street inSaugatuck, Michigan, is part of the corpus of the trust, the Trustee shall sellsuch property and the net proceeds received therefromshall be given to the Village of Saugatuck to be held in trust to create andmaintain in perpetuity a memorial rose garden in memory of my brother and hiswife, SAM. AND DORIS MIZE."

 

At her death there remained 55acres of the Mize farm at the northwest corner of 138th Avenue and 64th Street. The gross sale price for theland was $450,500. When expenses of the sale were deducted the net to be paidthe city was $445,486.11. Other gifts were given to two friends "for manykindnesses" and $35,000 to her doctor for research in the causes andcures for glaucoma.

By formerco-worker Bob Edmons who worked with Roxie atWalgreen's, where she joined the account department in 19.8:

 

Roxie Ann Mizewas raised in Saugatuck. Roxie, her brother Sam, and her mother continued tolive in the home they had in Saugatuck, at least through her high school years.Roxie worked as a waitress at the country club in Saugatuck when she was inhigh school.

 

Both Sam andRoxie went to college and Roxie worked for a public account firm, Rossiters, I think, studying for the CPA, but she never gotthat far. Sam became a lawyer and finally was a vice-president in the trust departmentof Northern Trust. Sam was killed in an auto accident shortly after he retired.His wife survived in the hospital for nearly a year, thendied from her injuries. Roxie were to the hospital several times a week (if notdaily) for that whole year.

 

Roxie startedat Walgreens at Bowen Avenue within a year or so ofmoving to Peterson Avenueand worked for Merwin Pratt in internal auditing. Shewas still in auditing when I was transferred in but a couple years later shetransferred to pension trust replacing Henry Kueltzo.After a few years she worked herself so hard she was hospitalized and had to betransferred to accounting. She did the accounting for the Globe division, andlater was in accounts receivable doing one thing or another until she retired.

 

Roxie lived one block away from meso I would frequently drive her home. She would bend my ear at length aboutsome old persons in Saugatuck, or down south in Memphis (I think) where she also had somerelatives. I moved to Sauganash, but would still seeher on the bus to Deerfield from time to timeor in the hall. Then she would call me at home when something happened to oneof these old folks or there was something about Walgreensin the paper. This went on even after she retired. Roxie survived two boutswith cancer and a serious mugging on the near north side of Chicago.

What did shelike? Flowers, conservatories, plays (like the GoodmanTheatre), concerts (at Orchestra Hall), movies and eating out. She wasacquainted with several people from the Chicago Tribune, photographersand who know who else.

 

At the wake Iwas talking to a guy from the bank who also got callsat odd hours. His comment was, "Everybody knew a different Roxie, butnobody knew the whole thing - she was a pretty private person." I concur.

 

The secondbiographical sketch was from a coworker of her brother Sam Mire, the brotherthe ruse garden was dedicated to. It is written by a former employee ofNorthern Trust. The writer is identified only as "Dick:"

 

Sam Mize wasan avid outdoorsman, loving canoeing and fishing. He also loved nature. One ofthe things he did at his Michiganretreat was to go into the forest and plant hundreds of daffodil bulbs. Foryears afterward the woods around there were ablaze with yellow flowers in thespring. Sam was an avid baseball fan and was particularly proud of his kin,Johnny Mize, the famous baseball player. Sam and his wife Doris,were formidable bridge players and were big at Duplicate. They had manyfriends.

 

In the years Iworked at the Northern Trust in ChicagoI felt Sam had one of the most demanding (and unsung) jobs in the Bank as headof the Probate Tax Division. He was under pressure day and night on that joband was called to advise many people of senior rank on critical tax matters.Yet no matter how harried he might be, if you approached him with a problem, hewould drop everything to help you. He was a generous soul.

 

It was becauseof our great respect and appreciation for Sam that the Sam Mize Award wasestablished. Carol Filigenzi was the prime mover inthis. I hope the following text taken from the award will be of help:

 

Sam Mize epitomized all the bestin Northern Trust Bank personnel: he was honorable, knowledgeable, dedicatedand caring.

 

Sam worked forThe Northern Trust Bank from the timehe graduated from college in the depths of the Great Depression until his deathin November, 1983. After his official retirement in January, 1976, he stayed onwith Northern as a consultant working in Chicagoduring the summer and Arizonaduring the winter.

 

He rosethrough the ranks to become head of the Tax Department and a nationallyacknowledged expert in fiduciary taxation. Few people had Sam's depth ofunderstanding in the complex field of tax shelters, especially oil and gas programs.His integrity in the selection of these investments for

our customers wasvital to the success of the Special Investment Division.

 

But Sam wasmuch more than a tax expert. He was a gentle, deeply spiritual man, who rarelytalked about his philosophy of life. Instead he lived his beliefs, 24 hours aday, seven days a week. Sam was interested in people as individuals; he had aknack of bringing out the best in others. Knowing that he cared and believed inyou helped you believe in yourself. Because of his influence you often foundyourself accomplishing things that you had never dreamed you could.

 

This award isgiven in Sam's memory to others who display these characteristics and who do somuch to make Northern Trust a truly unique organization.

 

The two additional biographieswere recently collected by Russell volt of Arlington Heights, Illinoisand given to the Society. The archives have also recently acquired severalartifacts connected with the Mize family including items associated with SamMize's years of interest and investment in oil drilling.