ROCHESTER, Mich. – When John and Mary Modetz lead the 62nd Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade down Main Street on Sunday, organizers say it won't be the first time that this couple has been involved in the areas' favorite holiday event.
Chosen by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce parade committee from community members' nominations, organizers of the parade said the choice of the Modetz as Grand Marshals is a fitting recognition for the couple's years of community service.
"Our family worked with the Parade Committee, building floats and helping with the bands for years," Mary said. "I decorated the Santa float when Bob Lyon played Santa, we would pick him up before the parade and bring him home again."
The Modetz's family involvement in the parade is just part of their many and varied community service efforts in the area they made their home 27 years ago.
Mary and John met and married in Livonia and moved to Rochester in 1986. John was interested in purchasing an established funeral home in the historic city. A friend told him that not only can you have a business and career in the Rochester area, but "you can have a life."
Organizers say both John and Mary have made a wonderful life in their adopted home town, offering meaningful service to the families who turn to them at life's most difficult moments and giving to the community with open hearts.
Among the many community organizations that John and Mary have served are Oakland University, Crittenton Hospital, the Rotary Club, the American Heart Association, the Rochester Downtown Development Authority, the Rainbow Collection, the Rochester Woman's Farm and Garden Association, Rochester Community House, and the Older Persons Commission.
John has a special affection for the Boy Scouts of America.
"I am an Eagle Scout," John says proudly.
Twenty five years ago, the Modetz's and their employee, Terri Williams, began chairing the Greater Rochester Area Memorial Day Parade, to honor their veteran dads.
Moving to the Charter Township of Oakland in 2011, the John and Mary have continued their thoughtful generosity. After observing numerous automobile accidents on the road in front of their historic farmhouse, organizers said they donated an easement for the construction of a bike path.
"I would hate to see a child hit by a car because there was no bike path across my property," John said.
Community involvement is a trait the Modetz have strived to instill in their family. That family includes their children; Daniel, Scott (Leila), Holly (Jorge) and treasured granddaughter, 2 year old Zuri Mae.
"I tell my kids that you have to give back to the community," Mary said. "In our field of work we have learned that life is precious, you need to step outside the box and get involved, live life to the fullest by sharing."