Oral History Project: Rosie Fonger

Beginning in 2007, a joint project with Grand Valley State University’s Veteran’s Oral History Project began as a means to preserve history through recorded interviews with local residents. This included local high school students conducting the interviews. These recordings have been saved as digital archives by the Lowell Area Historical Museum, which began recording their own interviews in 2019.

The Museum’s Oral History Committee works to set up new interviews, do background research, compiles questions, gathers photos, and performs the interview. Those interviewed include local veterans as well as Lowell citizens. “We are seeking to capture personal memories of life in Lowell,” says Lisa Plank, Executive Director of the Lowell Area Historical Museum. “Everyone interviewed has a connection to Lowell and information to share that we believe is valuable to our understanding of the past. Military interviews include information on their service history and often memories of life in Lowell before and after service.”

To date over 75 interviews have been completed and can be found on the Lowell Area Historical Museum’s website. Some who have been interviewed have since passed away while others still live in the community. All who have participated add to Lowell’s history by sharing how they have been a part of it. According to Plank, “Oral histories represent a valuable resource in understanding the past. Not all history is written down and personal memories help to expand the story and our ability to learn from the past.” 

Each week, Lowell’s First Look will highlight one of the interviews that are part of the Oral History Project. Each Sunday at 8pm, tune to the Lowell High School radio station at 92.3 FM to listen to LOWELLife, which broadcasts an interview. Visit the Lowell Area Historical Museum’s Facebook page to see who will be featured each week.

The Lowell Area Historical Museum is also accepting names for future interviews. If you are interested or know someone who should be considered, contact the Lowell Area Historical Museum by phone (616-897-7688) or email

Below is information provided by the Lowell Area Historical Museum about the person we highlight this week.

Rosie Fonger
Past owner of Rosie Drive Inn at 800 W Main St, Lowell, and Fonger Super Save Market. Did you know in the summer they had a basketball court behind the restaurant and in the winter they had an ice skating rink? Yes, she loved golfing, oh how she loved golfing!! But ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t the story we have for you. We have HER story- as a little girl, growing up in Lowell and how she met Mac. This is the “ah ha” moment you will think about for a very long time. Thank you Rose- for all these years.

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