Thad Taylor has spent more than half of his life protecting citizens as a law enforcement official and now he is pursuing another passion – putting his experience to work as the Cedar Springs City Manager.
A Greenville native, Taylor took the helm in Cedar Springs in September 2012. His approach to public service is “my door is always open.” His enthusiasm and commitment to his family, his career, and the people he works with and serves is a lesson Taylor says he learned early in life.
“The education at a community college is better than what you get someplace else”
Taylor attended Montcalm Community College in 1974. Reflecting on the year he spent at the college, he recalls the mentoring he received from then Admissions Advisor Bob Minnick and says it has inspired him throughout his career.
“He was committed to the college, and he was committed to the kids and to education,” Taylor says. “I got a front row seat at a very early age of what it means to be that committed and to have that kind of passion for something. That kind of focused me on the people that I wanted to work with. I wanted people who had that commitment and that passion.”
It’s a lesson he says he has remembered throughout his career.
Taylor served as a police officer and public safety sergeant for 11 years in Greenville before moving to Dewitt Charter Township in 1989 to become its Public Safety Director. In 1992, he and his family moved to Alpena where he served as the Public Safety Director for 16 years. In 2006, he assumed the joint role of Public Safety Director and City Manager and continued as City Manager from 2008 through 2012.
During his career, Taylor has served as a volunteer with a variety of local and state organizations including Michigan Chiefs of Police, Michigan Local Government Management Association, Michigan Municipal League and several others. He was also appointed to the Firefighter Training Council by former Governor John Engler.
Taylor says he is proud of the time he spent volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Michigan. Of all of the awards he has received during his career, he says being honored as the State of Michigan’s Big Brother of the Year is his greatest accomplishment.
“What’s most rewarding about that is to make a difference in a child’s life,” he says.
Looking back, Taylor has valued the life lessons he learned at MCC.
“The education at a community college is better than what you get someplace else,” he says. “We had very small classes and there were a lot of life experiences that I couldn’t have replicated at a university.
“I don’t think that I would have been as successful at college if I had gone immediately to a four-year institution,” he adds. “By going to MCC, I could focus on the difference in academic requirements between high school and college without the added pressure of the socialization skills that I would have needed to be successful.
“Years later, I think back and believe that attending MCC is the best thing that I could have done,” he says.
Taylor and his wife, Theresa, have been married 34 years. They have two children. Their son, Ryan, is a police officer in Traverse City. Ryan and his wife, Gwen, have two daughters, Hailey and Olivia. Taylor’s daughter, Jenna, and her husband, Trevor, live in Greenville with their three children, Jacob, Connor and Zach.
Gary Frisbie is living his childhood dream.
As a commercial pilot with Expressjet Airlines, based out of Chicago, Ill., Frisbie has more than 30 years of experience in the cockpit.
“I was in love with airplanes since I can remember. As I grew up, I wanted to be a pilot,” he says. “But not just a pilot – a hot shot fighter pilot, a test pilot and maybe round out my career as an astronaut.”
Frisbie earned his private pilot license as a student at the Greenville Airport during the summer before his senior year in high school.
“The instructors brought real world knowledge to the classroom.”
“I wanted to fly – that was my main dream,” he said.
However, Frisbie says that his instructor – Vern Johnson, who worked at the Greenville Airport – suggested that he should take a different approach.
“He explained to me that since Vietnam had just ended, the military had a mass exodus of pilots,” he says. “Vern told me that the market for pilots was flooded. He suggested that I go to A&P (Airframe & Powerplant Program) school. He thought I could break through the back door as a pilot and a mechanic because employers looked for pilots who could do both jobs.”
Frisbie graduated from Belding High School in 1973, and he enrolled at Montcalm Community College in the fall, where he earned his Aviation Maintenance Technology Certificate.
Although his life as a pilot has taken shape a little differently than his childhood dream, Frisbie says he made the right decision when he enrolled at MCC, and he credits the college for helping him achieve his dream.
He says he appreciates the quality of education he received at MCC and the resources the college provided for its aviation maintenance program.
“The instructors brought real world knowledge to the classroom,” he says. “I thought they were top notch. They were highly experienced in their field.”
Frisbie says the college had a “good sample of aircrafts to work on,” including a jet and a crop duster.
“It was a great learning experience. There wasn’t anything that we would see out in the field that we couldn’t do. It was an excellent school,” he says.
His experience in college helped shape his professional life.
Throughout his career, Frisbie has worked as an A&P mechanic, a contracted pilot and staff pilot in private industry and as a commercial airline pilot.
“I still love airplanes and what I do for a living,” Frisbie says.
Frisbie and his wife, Constance, live in Middleville. They have three children, Adam, Amanda and Austin.
A highlight of his career, he says, was the opportunity to fly with Adam at Expressjet, as captain and first officer, respectively. Frisbie says he hopes to someday have the opportunity fly with Austin, too, who also works with Expressjet.
“I’m sure that flying with two sons at the same company is not one for the record books, but it sure is cool,” Frisbie says.