Kimberlee Baczewski is the President and CEO of the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation. She’s been a trustee at the Foundation for 20 years. She and her family have called Midland home for 8 years. Kimberlee graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Therapeutic Recreation.
Prior to her work at the Foundation, Kimberlee worked as a Recreational Therapist and Admissions Manager, working with children and adults with traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. Kimberlee and her husband, Mark have two sons, ages 13 and 10. In their free time, they enjoy playing golf, tennis, attending Loons baseball games, and traveling far and wide to visit baseball stadiums throughout the country. Kimberlee’s community involvement includes the Arnold Center Board of Directors, Midland County ESA Board of Trustees, Greater Midland Board of Trustees and The Legacy Center for Community Success Board of Directors. She serves on the Advisory Board at MidMichigan Health. She’s the Family Foundation Chair at Council of Michigan Foundations. She’s a Trustee at Memorial Presbyterian Church. She’s a member of the 100 Club and is active with the Adams Elementary PTO.
President and CEO
Bobbie Nelson Arnold
Bobbie Arnold was born in Ashland, Wisconsin and grew up in Midland, Michigan. She graduated from Midland High School in 1973 and has attended Delta College and Bellevue College.
In 1974 she married David Arnold of Midland. His football coaching career took them to Alma, Michigan at Alma High School, East Lansing, Michigan and MSU, Bozeman, Montana and another MSU, Pullman, Washington with WSU, Miami, Florida with UM, Seattle, Washington with the Seahawks, Albion, Michigan with Albion College, Ft. Collins, Colorado with CSU and currently Dave is volunteering at Northwood University, in Midland where their son is coaching.
Bobbie and Dave have three children and six grandchildren. All reside in the Midland area.
Bobbie was the President and CEO of the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation for 18 years. She has been serving as a trustee and officer since 2001. She has helped to grant more than $28M in that time. She serves on the following boards:
- Wolverine Bancorp
- MidMichigan Health Corporation, currently chair of the board
- MidMichigan Health Corporation, Midland Board of Directors
- Michigan Humanities Council, currently Program Chair
- Council of Michigan Foundations
- Advisory Board for the ROCK, Midland
- Midland Kids First
- DDA – City of Midland
- Elder, Memorial Presbyterian Church of Midland. Serving on the Session Board, Finance and Investment Committees
Bobbie Nelson Arnold
Chairman of the Board
Charles J. Strosacker
Charles John Strosacker was born the son of William George and Caroline Fredricka in November 15, 1882, in Valley City, Ohio. Ironically, the German family of Strosacker, which meant “field of hay,” settled in a small farming community just south of Cleveland. When the one-room schoolhouse was not in session, Charles (or “Stro,” as he was called) worked on his father’s farm and in his grandfather’s store in town.
Chemistry was his niche and, in 1906, Charles earned a Bachelor of Science degree in the field of Chemical Engineering at the Case School of Applied Science. After graduation, an acquaintance gave Charles his first full-time job with the Ontario Nickel Company. He worked hard, using mining salts, in an attempt to extract nickel from Canadian ore. However, before the process could be perfected, the company went bankrupt. Once again, his acquaintance assisted by offering Charles a job as a chemist in his growing company. The acquaintance was Herbert Henry Dow and his company was Dow Chemical.
Herbert Dow often remarked, “I can find a hundred men to tell me an idea won’t work. What I want are men who will make it work.” He found that quality in Charles Strosacker.
At the same time as the collapse of the Ontario Nickel Company was the financial panic of 1907. This kept Herbert Dow from meeting payroll expenses. Employees that did not have savings to live on had to quit and look for employment elsewhere. Fortunately, with no family to support and having saved most of the earnings from his previous employer, Charles could afford to patiently wait for the company to regain financial health. At the time, loyalty was compensated with worthless stock certificates.
In 1932, two researchers discovered a byproduct resin that could be forged, drawn, rolled, stamped, blown, and welded. With its strong, moisture-proof properties, the resin provided excellent packaging material during World War II for machine guns, aircraft engines, spare parts, and delicate instruments that could reach destinations around the world without deteriorating.
It was not until after the war that the new product found its most marketable niche. Carroll R. “Curly” Irons slit the film into 12″ inch widths by 25′ foot lengths and called the new household product “Cling Wrap.” Initially the item was marketed through Curly’s own company, but eventually Charles was able to persuade Irons to produce the wrap at Dow. This product brought great success to the company. The value of Dow stocks, worthless in 1908, recovered and played a major role in Charles’ significant wealth. After Herbert Dow’s death, Charles became a member of the company’s Board of Directors and was promoted to Vice President in 1941. Today, Dow continues its prosperity with the production of many well-known products.
Since 1925, Charles’ sister Bertha, and their mother, Caroline, lived together in Midland. Bertha was devoted to her brother, mother, and the Presbyterian Church. She enjoyed teaching Sunday school, summer Bible sessions, and working with young Girl Scouts. Charles, though not a supporter of organized religion, admired Bertha for her selfless dedication to the church and its teachings. Five days prior to his sixtieth birthday, Bertha, the sister he adored, died of cancer. Charles’ grief gave way to a resolve that would change his life and “give her life new meaning.”
In January 1943, Charles Strosacker made the first of several generous gifts to his sister’s church. He announced to the Presbyterian’s governing body that he wished to build a new church naming it “The Bertha E. R. Strosacker Memorial Presbyterian Church”‘ on behalf of his late sister. He made a commitment of 2000 shares of Dow stock. Unfortunately, the war years delayed construction. Just when the groundbreaking date was set, the North Koreans moved past the 38h Parallel and world events threatened to cause further delays in the project. Charles immediately ordered the contractor to procure $200,000 worth of construction materials before supplies vanished. In February 1953, the dedication of the new church took place. A dove in flight over a bible with Bertha’s favorite verse, “What times I am afraid, I will trust in thee,” became the new church seal. In the end, the bricks and mortar project totaled $1,600,000.
In 1961, the church’s educational facilities, dining room and kitchen needed to be expanded. The pastor was hesitant to agree to the remodeling due to the enormous cost. Again, Charles made a considerable gift, sponsoring the entire remodeling project with a gift of $1,050,000.
Charles’ philanthropy was not exclusively made to the Presbyterian Church. Less visible kindnesses were demonstrated toward widows and other relatives of Dow employees, with payments on mortgages and hospital bills. Charles was also known to send frequent care packages to two female cousins in Munich trying to survive during the constant Allied bombings.
It came as no surprise to close friends and family when, on January 31, 1957, the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation opened with his initial contribution of one thousand dollars and a commitment of substantial stock of The Dow Chemical Company. The foundation he began in 1957 remains today, “small in design and primarily local in nature.”
Charles John Strosacker succumbed to heart complications on March 27, 1963, just five months after his eighty-first birthday. In accordance with Strosacker’s wishes, a portrait of the philanthropist was removed from storage and hung in the Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Charles J. Strosacker