Eight graduates to be inducted into THS Alumni Wall of Fame on May 8


Perry Hayden, founder of the Dynamic Kernels project.

The Tecumseh Alumni Association will add eight names to its Wall of Fame at an award ceremony on May 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Tecumseh High School (THS) in the cafetorium. Rae Nita Larson Heintzelman, D. J. Martin, Courtney Lawson, Cate Maples Waynick, Andria Lieu and Ralph Helzerman Jr. may be on hand to receive the award in person, while Perry Hayden and Perry Satterthwaite will receive the award posthumously. Biographies of half of those receiving the honor will be highlighted in this week’s Herald. The other half will appear next week.

Rae Nita Heinzelman, a 1940 THS graduate, was very active while as a student and remains active today, at age 93. In school she was a Declamation district winner, an Oration district winner, received a DAR Award, was class salutatorian, was on the student council, tennis team, was a cheerleader and drum major, participated in the junior and senior plays, and was a member of the debate team, French, journalism and glee clubs. While still in high school, she opened a studio where she taught a variety of dance styles and acrobatics.

After graduation, she attended the University of Michigan (UM), graduating in 1944 with a degree in education. She taught dance for the university in the women’s physical education department, directed the choreography for plays and operettas, and was chairperson of entertainment for skits to sell war bonds. She stayed busy during the summers by working as a camp counselor and one summer, she worked at Tecumseh Products.

After graduating, she was the activities director and physical education teacher for Willow Run Schools before opening her dance studio in Jackson. Among many other dance teaching gigs, Heintzelman taught at the Y.M.C.A. in Toledo and the Y.W.C.A. in Honolulu.

In 1953, she married and moved to Hollywood, CA where she taught dance, before joining the L.A. school system and later, teaching the deaf and hard of hearing in the Marlton School for the Deaf. After retiring, she continued to be active in a slew of activities, including tutoring, volunteering for hospice, and providing entertainment for nursing home residents in California, Colorado, and Michigan

Moving back to Tecumseh in 2005, Heintzelman joined Tecumseh Friends of the Library, was on the Tecumseh Center for the Arts board, and is a member of the Tecumseh Alumni Association, where she was recognized as the oldest member in 2014 at age 93. She still rides a stationary bike and plays bridge to stay mentally fit.

Perry Hayden was a 1919 THS graduate. He was class salutatorian, class treasurer and president and served as the manager of the Lyceum Course as well as First Lt. of the Cadet Corps. He was on the tennis team and was business manager of the 1919 yearbook. He graduated from UM where he belonged to several fraternities and honor societies.

He returned to Tecumseh after graduating from UM in 1925. He was owner and publisher of the Tecumseh Globe before it was purchased by the new owners of the Tecumseh Herald in 1927. In 1935, the same year Hayden Mills celebrated their centennial, he was named president and hosted Ford along with Chief Kuiutus, the great-great grandson of Chief Tecumseh.

Hayden made Tecumseh famous in the 1940s when he teamed up with his friend Henry Ford and founded the Dynamic Kernels Project, which was a lesson on tithing. He took one cubic inch of wheat, planted it, tithed 10 percent of the wheat and planted the rest. Within six years, 2,666 acres were needed to plant the wheat and 72,138 bushels were harvested, which yielded $150,000. The project was the subject of the book “God is My Landlord,” and it inspired many articles in newspapers and magazines, including a two-page spread in Life magazine. Upon his death at age 53 in 1954, Hayden was recognized across the country for his tithing project.

Hayden was also half of the well-known “Perrys” at the time. The other half was Perry Comfort Satterthwaite, who was a 1910 THS graduate. He was active as a businessman, engineer, banker and philanthropist. After high school, he attended UM, graduating in 1917 as a licensed civil engineer.

He served in the Army Corps of Engineers as a captain in France during WWI. Following his service in the Army, he helped build the “new” Tecumseh High School (now the administrative services building) on Ottawa Street. In 1919, Satterthwaite became manager of the William Hayden Milling Company, while the other Perry became sales manager in 1925. Satterwaite became partner of a new endeavor, set up by the other Perry, Hayden Fuel and Supply Company, which sold coal and electricity generated by the Globe Dam.

Satterthwaite was a charter member and past president of the Rotary Club and was a director of the Lilley State Bank and later, United Savings Bank, where he served for more than 30 years. He was also involved on the village council and was a member of the city charter commission when Tecumseh became a city in 1954. He donated land next to the Community Center, now known as Satterthwaite Park, along with the property that makes up part of the hiking trails, parking lot and tennis courts. He also served as a trustee for the Tecumseh Hospital Association when the hospital was built in 1938 and served on the Herrick Memorial Hospital Board more than 20 years and served on the board of education. His office was the old train depot, now located at the corner of Ottawa and Chicago Boulevard. He willed the building to the Tecumseh Historical Society, which moved it from its South Evans Street location. On May 20, 1975, Satterthwaite received the Michigan Minuteman Award from Governor William Milliken.

D. J. Martin is another well-known businessman in Tecumseh, who graduated from THS in 1958. People describe him as a fun-loving, hard-working, modest community supporter who avoids publicity about his generosity.

In 1947, the Martins moved to Tecumseh after buying out a couple who were retiring from the hardware business. The hard-working teenager and a friend dug out the basement of the original location (Basil Boys today) by hand, using shovels and a conveyor belt to remove the dirt. After graduating, Martin served in the Marine Corps for three years, and instead of going to Michigan State, he joined his dad in business. By 1962, he began purchasing the business from his dad. Until his dad was willing to sell the last portion, he invested as a silent partner in a real estate business at 31. He co-founded Dillingham Woods, Gove Court/Drive subdivision, and 61 apartments in Tecumseh. Through his real estate interests, Martin owns property throughout the city. He graciously donated 40 acres to Tecumseh High School for the new building on Brown Street.

One of his fondest memories is the community support after the December, 2000 roof collapse at Martin’s Home Center. People streamed into the store to ask how they could help. Exactly one year after losing the building, it had been rebuilt and reopened with many improvements.

The humble businessman works 12 hours a day, often seven days a week. He will not tell you that he is the silent benefactor and caretaker for many people and organizations in the community, nor that he does little things, like loan his nice car to a kid who doesn’t have one so he can take a date to the prom, nor that he credits his business teacher, Jim Howard, for inspiring him to go into business. However, most people know the impact he’s had on the community.


Tecumseh Herald


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P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

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