Chamber of Commerce celebrates life of 2016 Citizen of the Year

The Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Outstanding Citizen of the Year is no longer with us — but the memory of Tim Brockman was felt by everyone in attendance.

When news broke Thursday of the community leader’s death, the Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce rearranged its 60th annual award banquet to honor Brockman’s legacy.

His longtime friend, Chris “Elmo” Walton, flanked by members of the Brockman family, accepted the award on his behalf at the Comfort Inn and Suites Conference Center Saturday night.

“Tim would be so honored for your recognition of him, though he did not seek out praise or personal attention,” Walton said. “He was doing what naturally came to him — the right thing to do.”

Leaders from Mount Pleasant and across the state attended the ceremony including Mayor Kathleen Ling, Rep. Roger Hauck, Central Michigan University President George Ross and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow.

But the only name on anyone’s mind was Brockman’s, said City Commissioner Jim Holton, a friend of more than 20 years.

“I know he saw this from up above — there’s no doubt about that,” Holton said. “It was an honor to have his family here and the dignitaries, but Tim would probably smile, look at everyone and say ‘OK everybody get back to work.”’

Brockman was a graduate of Mount Pleasant High School, the owner of Max & Emily's Eatery, a leader of the Mount Pleasant Community and a man dedicated to helping others.

Brockman saw the kitchen as a “family place," Walton said.

His three children were all involved in Max & Emily's at some point in their lives. Walton said he could often be seen sitting at the table in his restaurant “solving the world’s problems" before 8 a.m. every Monday through Friday.

Brockman's love for Mount Pleasant radiated in his business decisions, Walton said. At Max & Emily’s, he didn’t teach his staff how to make or sell great sandwiches, he taught them how to sell Mount Pleasant.

“He believed every person you met was a gift. Every person you cheer up, (every) mouth you feed and every random act of kindness is a personal gift,” Walton said.

In 2016, he started People Helping People, in association with the Isabella Community Soup Kitchen and Isabella County Restoration House. The program gives vouchers to those in need to receive a free meal at Max & Emily’s every Sunday — a day when the soup kitchen is closed.

Brockman spent roughly $12,000 during the first year of the program.

“It was the right thing to do," Walton said.

In 2008, Brockman started the Max & Emily’s Summer Concert Series, which organizes free musical performances throughout the summer.

It wasn’t about making money, Walton said, but it was important for Brockman to offer a way for families to be together in difficult economic times.

“It was the right thing to do,” Walton said.

A CMU alumnus, Brockman loved his “Chippewa family,” Walton said. He was often seen attending games for the university’s sports teams and donated roughly 40,000 cookies to the football program during the past 14 seasons.

He also frequently attended CMU plays and performances, Walton said. He would order pizza for the musicians who, during busy performance nights, didn’t have time to get their own food.

Walton ended his speech with a lesson Brockman taught him. 

"Find the difference that you can make for someone else and do it," Walton said. "Do it now. Do it tonight. Do it tomorrow. Not because it’s easy (and) not because you’ll get praise from someone else. Do it for Tim. 

It's the right thing to do." 

Brockman's brother, Michael, held back tears while thanking the chamber. He wished everyone joy and gave only a few words. 

"Raise the roof," he said. 

As they left the room, Walton and the Brockman family received thunderous applause. 

Other awards and their recipients included: 

  • Mike Miller - Ambassador of the Year
  • Teresa Rupert - Charles E. Anthony Award
  • Richard Rautanen - Past Chair Award
  • Gary Lane - Young Professional of the Year
  • Max and Emily's Eatery - Business Community Service Award (small)
  • Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort - Business Community Service Award (large) 

The 2016 Eagle Award winners for outstanding community service included:

  • Virginia Judge - Art Reach of Mid Michigan
  • Richard Rautanen - Central Michigan Area Toys for Tots
  • Amy S. Bourns - Community Cancer Services of Isabella County
  • Phil Mikus - Friends of the Broadway Theatre
  • Mary Ann Breuer - General Federation of Women’s Clubs
  • Justin Travis - Girls on the Run of Central Michigan
  • Larry Collins - International Relations Council
  • Richard Nestle - Isabella County Sportsmans’ Club
  • Jeannie Fisher - Life Choices of Central Michigan
  • Kendall Farnum - McLaren Central Michigan Volunteer Services
  • Mary Lu Yardley - Mount Pleasant Area Community Foundation
  • Kara Bouman - Mount Pleasant Jaycees
  • Kara Bouman - Mount Pleasant Kiwanis Club
  • Steve Rudoni, Jr. - Mount Pleasant Lions Club
  • Heather Graham - Mount Pleasant Optimist Club
  • Paul Siers - Rotary Club of Mount Pleasant
  • Angie Evans - United Way of Gratiot and Isabella Counties
  • Ruth Helwig - Zonta Club of Mount Pleasant