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The Daily Times
SERVING LASALLE COUNTY SINCE 1844

 

Ottawa's "Man in Motion"
By TAMMIE SLOUP
Staff Writer
Official portrait photo of Emil Lockwood as Senate Majority Leader
Moral conviction, values and virtue were never handicaps for Emil Lockwood - an Ottawa native who climbed the political ladder all the way up to Michigan's Senate Majority leader.

"He will be remembered as one of the finest in Michigan's political pantheon," said former Michigan Gov. John Engler.

Described by family, friends, former colleagues and journalists as a guys guy and a loyal friend with a quick wit, Lockwood traces his successes in business and in the political arena back to his upbringing in Ottawa [Illinois].

And he was always eager to chat about his hometown.

As his birthplace and a great influence on his life, Ottawa is featured prominently in Lockwood's biography, Man in Motion, researched and written by husband-and-wife team Stanley and Marilyn Fedewa of Michigan. The book chronicles Lockwood's boyhood years in Ottawa and follows his WWII kamikaze attacks in the South Pacific before he jumped into the maelstrom of the Michigan Senate (1963-70).

"We felt it was important to feature Ottawa because it was so important to Emil," Marilyn Fedewa said. "He always talked about his upbringing there and the richness of the area. He never failed to mention the founding on U.S.A. soil of the Boy Scouts of America and the Lincoln-Douglas debate. Front cover of Man in Motion, Emil Lockwoods biography It meant so much to him, and he kept up with his friends there long after he left Ottawa ... He often visited and never forgot."

The Fedewas began delving into Lockwood's life more than two years ago when Lockwood and his wife Anna approached the pair about writing a biography.

"Emil and his wife were very interested in telling a story," Stanley Fedewa said. "They searched around quite a while and wanted people who were good writers, were trustworthy and would really tell the story like it is. 'Emil said, 'We would like to get somebody to tell the story but this isn't some kind of whitewash job.' They sought us out ."

But Lockwood wouldn't live long enough to see his life in print. Last summer, he was rushed to the hospital with pneumonia, and later died of a heart attack on Aug. 2 in Ann Arbor, Mich. He was 82.
Lockwood left quite a legacy, however.

"As Majority Leader, Lockwood's mettle was put to the test during unprecedented crises of fiscal reform and post-Detroit-riot civil unrest," according to the authors. "Declining offers at key political posts in Washington, D.C., he co-founded the state's first bipartisan, multi-client lobbying firm, a connection he maintained even during 'semi-retirement' in the Florida Keys."

Lockwood was born in 1919 to Mabel Pauline Achard and Henry Clare Lockwood. He attended Ottawa's Episcopal church, as well as Lincoln Grade School and Ottawa Township High School, where he took his first salesmanship course and first confronted racial prejudice.

Boyhood friends: Emil Lockwood, left, and Sam Parr, at the Boy Scout Memorial Statue, Ottawa, Illinois

"Raised with the best of Ottawa's small-town values, where everyone is a neighbor, Emil described the only black family in town as 'real nice people'," the biography reads.

Lockwood, who was in the same class with one of the black family's boys, told the Fedewas of an unforgettable experience at his high school graduation. Prior to the ceremony, a white parent approached Lockwood and asked him if he would sit between his daughter and Lockwood's black friend.

"I said I'd be more than glad to,' Lockwood recounted. "Then I realized that there were a lot of people in town like that, but I hadn't faced up to one until then."

He went on to receive his associates degree from Kemper Military School in June 1939, and that summer worked as a soda jerk, waiter and cashier at Bianchi's Restaurant and Confectionery in Ottawa. He entered the University of Michigan that fall.
He also worked at Starved Rock State Park in 1942, where he cleaned toilets and operated power mowers and tractors.
In the book, Lockwood also recalls when a hearing- and voice-impaired friend of his saved his life while working at the park.
The Fedewas spent more than 100 hours interviewing Lockwood and his contemporaries, while also conducting research through outside sources, Lockwood's personal archives and news accounts. The Daily Times is even referenced in the book.

"As you research someone as well-known as Emil, you try to figure out what makes them tick," Marilyn Fedewa said. "We determined after listening to him and meeting him, he really kind of embodied a lot of small-town values that stay with people over time."

During a period of racial upheaval, Stanley Fedewa said it was hard to believe someone from a small town would be able to tackle the urban problems that Lockwood did, and still come out well-liked.

"He stood out among the crowd," he said. "Nobody disliked him, and I have quite a bit of political background, and I've seen (politicians) come and go."

Book orders for Man in Motion can be e-mailed at orders@Ilumina.com, or by calling 1-866-229-9244 .
 

Copyright 2003 The Daily Times of Ottawa, Illinois
July 14, 2003

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