Community service motivated Burton’s first female mayor more than politics

BURTON, MI — Jane L. Nimcheski’s claim to local notoriety was her election as Burton’s first mayor, but friends and family say she was most concerned with community service — something that distinguished her in a city known for its tough urban environment -and-fall policy.

Nimcheski, 79, died in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, September 14, nearly 40 years after she was first sworn in as mayor, just 11 years after Burton transitioned from a township to a city.

A former nurse at Flint’s St. Joseph Hospital and Flint Osteopathic Hospital, Nimcheski was also known for her work with local Girl Scouts and Guides, as a member of the Burton Women’s Fire Auxiliary, and as a religious instruction coordinator and member of the Catholic Church’s school board.” Holy Rosary”.

After losing the election, she retired from politics, volunteering at the Genesee County Free Medical Clinic and serving as a children’s litigator.

“She wasn’t a politician. She was more of a church worker,” her daughter Michelle Welch-Kohn said Tuesday, Sept. 20. “I think it was because she was raised in her faith… She didn’t quote any Bible verses – it was just the way she lived her life.”

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Nimcheski served as mayor from 1983 to 1991, having first been elected to the city council in 1979.

As mayor, she helped bring public water to Burton and supported the replacement of an aging municipal well system that served only part of the city, said Jeff Wright, Genesee County’s sewage commissioner.

“She knew it would jeopardize her position as mayor,” Wright said, “because of higher taxes and the fear residents with wells would be forced to plug into the water system,” Wright said, but “she did what she did.” saw fit, for all people… …and it improved water quality for people (and enabled business growth). She was so selfless.”

Nimcheski helped pave the way into Burton politics for other women, including Paula Zelenko, who served as state representative for the area and mayor 20 years after her predecessor left.

“I think it’s always harder for a woman in our society … and she did it with a good heart,” Zelenko said. “I was able to call her to give her opinion and she didn’t hide from calling me to tell me what she thought.”

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Welch-Kohn said her father, Warren, a former city volunteer firefighter, recalled a story at Nimcheski’s funeral Tuesday about his wife’s dealings with townspeople who came to her and faced water shutoffs because they were stuck with their bills in the residue were.

“My mom would pay out of her personal checkbook from our family’s money to have her water turned back on,” she said. “That tells you something… She was sincere and kind and loyal. If she told you she was going to do something, she did it.”

In 1996, Nimcheski told The Flint Journal that before she decided to run for public office for the first time, she followed her lifelong habit of seeking divine guidance the day before the city council candidacy deadline.

Until then, she had been a wife and mother whose main activities outside the home revolved around Holy Rosary and his school in Genesee Township, and she had all but decided that was out of the question.

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Nimcheski, who attended Sacred Heart School in Birch Run, said she remembered words she heard when she was a student there.

“I remember one[person]in particular, Sister Jeanette…” Nimcheski then said. “I was in sixth or seventh grade. Every time I wanted to do something, I remember her saying to me, ‘You can do or be anything you want to be as long as you believe in God.’”

Decades after making the decision to run for office, Welch-Kohn said she still “can’t go anywhere without someone saying, ‘I know your mother.’

“She always wanted to fight for the underdog,” Welch-Kohn said. “She was very selfless and helped a lot of people.”

Read more below The Flint Journal:

Genesee County is close to approving a work-from-home plan for some employees

Jury awards $100,000 to health worker who says Flint’s blood lead records were falsified

The state orders the company that caused the Flint River spill to stop using waste hauling tunnels

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