Lapeer Community Schools and the Lapeer High School Alumni Association are proud to announce inductees for the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Hall of Honor: Rick Burrough (Class of 1982), Connie Helmick-Pfeiffer (Class of 1965) and Gary Phillips (Class of 1986).
All of these inductees have distinguished themselves as tremendous stewards of the education and training they received from Lapeer Community Schools; they are role models for all students.
Rick Burrough Lapeer East High School Class of 1982: Eric “Rick” Burrough is a lifelong resident of the Lapeer area who has achieved significant business success during his career. He began his career in the printing and newspaper business working at The County Press and Webco Press. He went to work for the commercial web printing company Michigan Web Press in Davisburg in the late 1980s ultimately being named a partner there in 1990 before taking sole ownership of the business in 1998.
In 2003, as owner and president of JAMS Media, he launched the Lapeer Area View. Wes Smith, Publisher of the View Newspaper Group, credits Burrough with the revival of community journalism in Lapeer County. “At that time, The County Press was owned by an out-of-state corporation that did not prioritize local news and sports coverage,” Smith said.
Burrough, who purchased the County Press in 2009, has been an ardent supporter of the Lapeer community through advocacy, in-kind donations and sponsorships of local organizations and events. The View Newspaper Group now includes 15 community newspapers with weekly print circulation of 250,000 copies and 100 employees, most of whom work at the company’s headquarters in The County Press building here in Lapeer.
Connie Helmick-Pfeiffer, Lapeer High School Class of 1965: Throughout her 41-year career training people to work alongside and care for people with disabilities, Pfeiffer earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues. Pfeiffer earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from The University of Michigan and a master’s degree in Leadership and Administration from Eastern Michigan University, earning both degrees while working full-time and raising a family.
Pfeiffer spent 21 years working at Oakdale Regional Center in Lapeer. After it closed, she worked at the Clinton Valley Center and the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center (MORC). She retired from her life’s work in 2013. In 18 years at MORC, she trained over 11,000 direct support professionals.
Kym Juntti, Director of Training at MORC said Connie was a favorite among those under her tutelage. “She was deeply committed to teaching positive, proactive strategies that led those we service feeling safer and more valued in this world … not only does she deserve this special recognition, but also a big community ‘thank you’ for representing you so well over the years,” she said.
Gary Phillips, Lapeer East Class of 1986: Phillips, a strong supporter of the Lapeer Community for many years, is the Director of Chassis Components and Plant Manager at ZF in Lapeer. He has been in this position since 2004, managing 360 employees.
Karen Rosso, who works with Phillips, said his number one priority is his family, so he goes the extra mile to ensure that his employees are able to care for their families. “When one of our own is in need, he will personally ensure that person gets support.”
Phillips is a well-known and respected member of the Lapeer community. He has been involved in the Adopt a Highway program that includes a three-mile stretch of I-69. ZF annually hosts a charity golf outing and is an active supporter of local schools. This support includes annual scholarships to Lapeer graduates, grants to Lapeer Robotics and educational assistance to students interested in manufacturing and skilled trades.
The Distinguished Alumni Hall of Honor program is cooperatively sponsored by Lapeer Community Schools and the Lapeer High School Alumni Association. The award was created to recognize and honor the accomplishments of the outstanding men and women who graduated from our schools. By celebrating these role models, we inspire today’s students to move forward in their own pursuit of excellence.
A ceremony will be held in their honor at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in the Irwin Board Room at the Administration and Services Center, 250 Second St., in Lapeer. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.