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Plaque to honor Kelley at courthouse

June 21, 2013
Steve Schulwitz - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

ALPENA -Frank Kelley has had a large impact on not only Alpena, but the state of Michigan as a whole. For his hard work and dedication he is going to be honored with a special tribute that will celebrate his achievements and his love of Alpena.

Judge Michael Mack, who has known Kelley since Mack was a young child, received approval from the Alpena County Finance Committee to order a bronze plaque that will be placed on the wall near the entrance of circuit court, the same place Kelley spent many hour trying cases while serving as a young attorney in Alpena, before moving on to become the longest serving attorney general in Michigan's history.

The idea for the plaque was made when Mack and others who have worked with Kelley met for a conference and talked about how best to honor their friend and comrade. He said a fund was started and soon the plaque and Kelley's likeness immortalized locally.

Mack said Kelley served as the city attorney for Alpena for some time, as well as practiced law and raised his family in Alpena. He said even when he was working in the state capital, Kelley always had a deep love and appreciation for Alpena.

Kelley served under six governors during his 37 years as AG. He also ran for the U.S. Senate and also was considered by the Democratic Party to run for governor. Mack said he helped to form the Consumer's Protection Agency, as well as environmental protection departments.

"Frank has always thought of Alpena as his hometown and he was always very loyal to people in Alpena," Mack said. "Even when he was in Lansing he would hire Alpena people who were in law school down there. He made it a point to hire people from Alpena into the attorney general's office who were in Lansing. Frank has always taken pride in the fact Alpena was his town."

Fact Box


At the age of 27 in 1954 Frank J. Kelley, with his wife and three small children, moved from Detroit to practice law in Alpena. He was the trial lawyer in many cases within this court house. Active in public service, he taught at the community college and served as county supervisor and city attorney. In December 1961 he was appointed by Governor John B. Swainson to become Attorney General of Michigan. He performed in that office with distinction becoming, after 37 years, the longest serving state Attorney general in the United States. He was the first Attorney General to create Consumer Protection and Environmental Divisions, and received national recognition in those fields. Of his years in Alpena Frank Kelley said: "It was one of the most happy times of my life for my family and me."

The plaque that will honor Kelley will have his image engraved into the bronze and it will have and inscription on it. It will be 30 inches by 50 inches, which is relatively the same size of the plaque downstairs of the courthouse. Mack said maybe one day a troubled child will read the inscription on the wall and use it as motivation.

"I think that if one kid from Alpena saw that plaque and said 'God, this guy went places,' and they went out there and tried to something better then it is worth every penny," Mack said.

Mack said the plaque is ordered and once it is complete there will be some sort of special event for its unveiling. He said more details will be released as details unfold, but hopes to have things in place before Kelley goes south for the winter.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at



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