2005-05-13 / People

Judge Ned Fenlon Honored As Distinguished Alumni

Judge Fenlon a Leader in Mackinac Bridge Legislation

Judge Fenlon
Judge Fenlon Judge Edward “Ned” Fenlon was awarded a 2005 Distinguished Alumni Award by Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC).

At 101 years old, Ned Fenlon is the college's oldest living alumnus. He lives in Petoskey, not far from one of the greatest accomplishments of his life, the Mackinac Bridge, which he was instrumental in developing as a state legislator. He is a former resident of Hessel and St. Ignace and was once commodore of the Mackinac Island Yacht Club.

Following high school, Mr. Fenlon attended the former Grand Rapids Junior College from 1923 to 1925, before leaving for the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Following his undergraduate studies, Mr. Fenlon attended St. Louis University Law School in 1928, and was graduated from LaSalle University Law School in 1929.

In 1933 Mr. Fenlon was elected to the Michigan State Legislature and he introduced legislation that paved the way for construction of the Mackinac Bridge. Mr. Fenlon was also instrumental in the construction of two other bridges, the Blue Water Bridge at Port Huron and the International Bridge between Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Ontario. He also established Michigan State Police posts throughout Michigan.

Mr. Fenlon said he is also proud of his relationship with Michigan's American Indians. As a young boy, he learned the Ottawa language and worked closely with local tribes during his 23 years as the 33rd Judicial Circuit Court Judge in northern Michigan. He even earned the Indian name “Tchi Ajigon,” which means" in order to build the bridge."

Each year Grand Rapids Community College recognizes a member of its alumni with the Distinguished Alumni Award for outstanding work at the college and or their community, or who meet criteria of extraordinary distinction in a professional field or life.

Since 1963 the college has recognized the prestigious award as the highest honor bestowed upon an outstanding GRCC alumnus.

Grand Rapids Community College was established in 1914 and now enrolls approximately 25,000 students.

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