Mr. Joseph V. Wakeley

Class of 1966
Career Pathway: Human Services

Joseph Vance Wakeley was nominated by Michael Gardiner, who said, "Grayling and Crawford County are lucky to have him."

Joe was in the GHS band and choir all four years and served as class president his sophomore, junior and senior years.

He and his brother Art were joint recipients of the Roy O. Milnes Award, the annual citizenship award voted on by the teaching staff. "They usually choose one, but somehow we tied, so they gave it to both of us," he said.

He attended Northwestern Michigan College for two years, then transferred to Central Michigan University, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree with a business education major and an economics minor. At CMU he was a member of Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity and served as both vice president and president. After graduation he served on the national staff for two years as a graduate adviser for the fraternity.

Mr. Wakeley was elected treasurer of Crawford County in 1972 and has served nearly 45 years in that position -- always running unopposed. He also owned and operated the Jolly Redskin Canoe Livery in Grayling for 11 years. 

He is a member of the Michigan Association of County Treasurers and served as the group's president in 1996. He was a 25-year member of the AuSable River International Canoe Marathon (ARICM) committee, serving as its president twice.

Mike Gardiner said that Mr. Wakeley has helped many elderly people with their income taxes at no charge, and in 1999, after the state turned over property foreclosures for delinquent taxes to counties, he and his deputy worked tirelessly to help the county's people remain in their homes by developing alternatives to assist them in financing their way out of trouble.

He is a committee member of Project Rising Tide, an initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation that provides at-risk communities with the tools they need to design and build successful economic frameworks. He also assists the Beaver Creek/Grayling Townships Joint Utility Authority, which helps provide energy for new projects in the county, including a water/sewer district along the East Four-Mile Road corridor to the new Arauco particleboard factory.

He has been a member of the Grayling Rotary and was the recipient of the organization's Paul Harris Fellow Award; he also serves on the board of the Michelson Memorial United Methodist Church.

His father, Arthur ("Junior") Wakeley, was a Crawford County native, and his mother, Mary Vance Wakeley, was born in Oscoda County. They owned Wakeley's Country Store on North Down River Road, and his mother taught, mostly in country schools in Crawford County, for over 35 years. 

"My dad ran the store during the school year," said Joe, "and my mother taught in the Feldhauser School across the road. I couldn't get away with anything. Growing up in the store is how I became interested in bookkeeping and learning how to help other people. My parents instilled that value in me at a young age. I would sometimes be there all day in the summer from opening to closing starting at about ten years old -- that would never fly today -- because my dad would be running his sawmill or farming up in Maple Forest and my mother had housework or would be in summer school at CMU."

His daughters Mary and Emily -- the fifth generation of his family to live in Crawford County -- graduated from Grayling High School, and his granddaughter Alice is a student in the CASD. 

According to Mike Gardiner, he is a rich man because of what he has done for this community and the people who live here. He made a conscious decision to return to Grayling after college in order to provide positive support to the community, whether it was assisting people in his job as county treasurer or in his involvement in various community programs. 

"Little did I know, when I started [the treasurer's] position on January 1, 1973, I'd still find it so rewarding 45 years later," said Joe Wakeley. "The community has truly been very good to me and my family, and for that I am very grateful and humbled. There is, in my view, no place like home."