by Andrea Tennyson
Jim Hayden, Renita Wallen, and Sandy Silsby have been named the 2020 Union City Citizens of the Year.
Jim Hayden has lived in the Union City area for 30 years. He moved here originally from Okemos, Michigan with his spouse Georgia. Together the pair have three sons, Jim, Doug, and Rich; five grandchildren; and a dog that "keeps him young".
Hayden was a Physical Therapist that graduated from the Mayo Clinic School in 1962. From there he worked in Munson Hospital in Traverse City, then moved to Lansing where he formed a corporation with a few partners and they end up having many hospitals that contracted with them. In 1997, Hayden sold the company to Stryker and there he stayed until his retirement in June of 2000.
Hayden is very involved with the Union City Rotary Club. He has been a member for almost 20 years. With the club he has served as President three times, he has also held the position of treasurer for the group. Hayden has been the Assistant Governor for the Rotary Clubs in this area. From 2005-2010 he held that position, and is again currently in that position for a year. He has two Coldwater, one Quincy, and Union City's clubs under his jurisdiction. He is a part of the Rotary District Governor nomination committee, and he is also very involved in the Rotary Maple Syrup project for the last 20 years, where he helps produce and sell the syrup at local Farmer's Markets and other locations.
Aside from Rotary, Hayden had served on the Dearth Center Building Committee, and is currently serving on the Union City Senior Center Board. He also is the President of the Union City Park Board at this time.
"I take the Rotary "Service above self" very seriously and I try to carry that motto in thought with everything that I do for our community," state Hayden.
Hayden loves where he lives because, "The people here, the small town like this, everyone is caring and they want to help each other, that is why it is so easy to serve in the area because so many are willing to do so. I also like the small town environment, water all around us and all of the animals, it is a laid back retirement for us and we really enjoy that."
Renita Wallen grew up in Jackson, Michigan. She lived south of Quincy with her husband Jack for seven years and then after the Palm Sunday tornadoes, which wiped out much for their homestead, moved to Union City in 1970 to start Wallen Farms.
Wallen and her husband Jack, had three children.
Son Jack, who is deceased, has two children, a son Steven who is married to Carolyn and they have a daughter Merci; and a daughter Kelli who has a son Maurya, and a daughter Noor.
Son Jim, who is married to Barb. They currently run Wallen Farms operation. Together they have children Lewie who is married to Tianna. Together they have Ross, Bracie, and Emily; Sarah who is married to Dave. They have two sons Edwin and Max; and TJ who is married to Veronica and they have a son "little" Jack.
Daughter Cheryl lives in Florida with husband Phil. Together they have a s Mark who is married to Hannah and a daughter Stacy (and Blake).
Wallen worked for and retired from the Michigan Bell telephone company.
Wallen attends the Union City First Congregational Church of God. She has also has been a member of the Union City Green Thumb Garden Club for over 45 years, where she has made many fond memories. Wallen has been active in the past with the UC Friends of the Library, the UC Athletic Boosters, and she currently likes to support many local organizations in the Union City area.
Wallen love where she lives because, "We live in a very friendly community, and there is a lot of caring about one another. A lot of organizations offer support to everyone in the community. We have great responses for emergencies that happen, and I just love that we are a very caring community."
Sandy Silsby has lived in the Union City area with her husband and business partner Jon for 25 years. They bought a house here in 2012 and then moved to the area permanently from Vicksburg, Michigan in 2016.
Silsby and her husband have four grown children: Aaron, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee with his wife Adriane and their two sons, Kaleb, Michael and Michael's new wife Samantha; Sarah, who lives in Vicksburg, Michigan with her husband Tim and their children Kaela, Keagan, Arabellah, Ariannah, Timothy, Nora, Izzabelle and Marlon; Cody who lives in Indian River, Michigan and his son Kason; and Mariah who lives in Denmark, Wisconsin with Kevin and his daughters Occie and Adtsen.
Silsby and her husband Jon currently own and operate DOVE Ag Services in Union City, where they serve the area farm community.
Silsby is the Chair of Farm to Fork and Chair of UC Chamber of Commerce. She belongs to the Union City Rotary Cub and she tries to help the community in any way she can.
Silsby loves where she lives because, "I love this community because of the people. We are a close-knit community and everyone is so helpful. I love the historic feel and the community intent on keeping history alive here."
These three individuals will be honored on Saturday, September 26 at the Farm to Fame Concert. The event will be held form 6-9 p.m. at the Rick Mears Amphitheater in Heritage Cultural Park in Union City.
Congratulations Jim Hayden, Renita Wallen, and Sandy Silsby!