OWOSSO MAYOR CHRIS EVELETH read the surprise proclamation naming the city chambers as the Virginia “Jo” Teich City Council Chambers during the Monday evening meeting, while her sons, Rob and Steve, listened. State Rep. Ben Frederick watched the emotional event. Their mother had been the first woman to serve on the Owosso City Council. Beyond that, she had been a dedicated community supporter and volunteer.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor
A surprise proclamation honoring Virginia “Jo” Teich was held during the Owosso City Council meeting Monday, Oct. 1, led by Owosso Mayor Chris Eveleth, who was moved by the idea from Ben Frederick when he had been mayor. The proclamation named the Owosso City Council chambers in honor of Virginia “Jo” Teich. Her son, Rob Teich, is currently a council member, and the proclamation was organized without his knowledge. A number of friends and family attended the special, surprise event in recognition of the lady who directly influenced many people in the community – as a volunteer, a leader and an inspiration.
Teich was born in Clinton County on Friday, Dec. 21, 1923. She passed away Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 at 92 years of age. In her lifetime, she worked at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) as the adult program director from 1968 until 1974. She also worked as a real estate broker from 1975 until 1997. Aside from her busy career demands, she was unusually dedicated to serving the community in a variety of ways including the Shiawassee County Genealogical Society, the Shiawassee County Art Association (now the Shiawassee Arts Center or SAC), the Shiawassee County Council on Aging (SCOA), the Michigan Municipal League, the Shiawassee County Historical Society and also helping with the Owosso Historic Homes Tour.
Teich was a graduate from Rodney B. Wilson High School in St. Johns, attended Michigan State University and the University of Connecticut, and graduated from John Wesley College in Owosso. She married Robert Teich on November 11, 1944 and the couple raised two sons.
As well as her commitment to both family and community, Teich sought further duty as a public servant. She served on the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners, but perhaps more notably became the first woman to be elected to the Owosso City Council in the 1970s – an accomplishment that caught the attention of the state news at the time. Teich served on city council for seven years and even held the mayor pro tem seat.
“I was happy to be able to honor a very special woman in this way, and I’m even more honored that her son, Rob, sits on council and was able to accept this proclamation,” shared Eveleth. “Jo was very involved in the community, and she broke the first glass ceiling in Owosso and paved the way for others such as Christine Mitchell, our first female mayor.”
On a side note, the council currently has more female council members than male – another first for Owosso.