JON MICHAEL FUJA was presented with a plaque from the Greater Durand Area Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Oct. 11 in recognition of his 30-plus years as a Chamber member and 40 years as the owner of Jon Michael’s Jewelers, which he opened in 1979 with his wife, Vicki, and sister, Deanna Kleitsch. Mike, as he is known by many, graduated from Durand High School in 1966 and has been a pillar of the community for decades. After marrying in 1966, Mike and Vicki would go on to raise two daughters, Kimberly and Michelle, and they are currently enjoying their 53rd year of marriage.
Mike also began his professional career in 1966, as a production welder at Simplicity Engineering in Durand, before beginning an apprenticeship in 1967 as a die maker-machinist at Chevrolet Metal Fabrication, ultimately working his way up to Die Room supervisor and tooling designer. In 1976, Mike completed his associate’s degree in industrial supervision and business management at Mott Community College and, while still working with Chevrolet, Mike teamed up with his wife and sister to open Jon Michael’s Jewelers in Monroe Plaza in 1979.
Mike got his start in the jewelry business with his uncle, Fred Kuczajda, who owned and operated Fayrick Manufacturing in Detroit from 1959 until he sold the business to Mike in 1980. Jon Michael’s Jewelers operated out of Monroe Plaza until 1992, at which point the business moved downtown into its current home on N. Saginaw Street.
After serving on the Durand City Council from 1991 through 1998, including a year as mayor, Mike spent 14 years as the District 4 representative on the Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners, from 1998 through 2012, serving as chairman from 2002 through 2006.
Mr. Fuja was a member of the Greater Durand Area Chamber of Commerce, serving as president in 1986, 1996 and 2007, and he and Vicki took pleasure in being very active members of the Chamber for more than three decades. Mike was also recognized as the Chamber’s 2009 Citizen of the Year.
Mike was a member of the Durand Rotary Club from 1980 through 1999, serving as president in 1989. During his year as president, the Durand Rotary Club began the restoration of the Sandula Clock Tower, which remains one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Mike was also a founding member of the Durand Vernon Ambulance Service, in 1967, and served the Durand community in that capacity until 1972.
In 1989, Mike and pharmacist Dave Johnson co-founded the End of Summer Cruisin’ Car Show. The duo organized the car show together for a few years before Mike took over as chairperson. During his 25 years organizing the event, Durand’s car show has developed a reputation as one of the most consistent, positive shows on the state’s car cruise circuit. The End of Summer Cruisin’ Car Show celebrated its 30th year in 2019.
Shown during the plaque presentation on Oct. 11 is (from left) Durand City Council Trustee John Matejewski, Chamber members Tim Shaw and Patti Perry-Corwin, Durand Mayor Deb Doyle, Chamber member Kathy Shaw, Chamber Executive Director Candyce Wolsfeld, Mike Fuja, Chamber member Stephanie Cleveland, Durand Clerk-Treasurer Lisa David and Chamber member Kelly French.
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)