Former State Lawmaker Birkholz Passes Away
Patty Birkholz, a former southwestern Michigan lawmaker known as a great supporter of early childhood education, died last week at age 74. Ms. Birkholz served the state House from 1997-2002 and Senate from 2003-08. Earlier in her career she had been a Saugatuck Township trustee and the Allegan County treasurer. As an advocate for education she often called upon the staff and resources of the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency (AAESA), using the agency as a positive example of early childhood education.
Ms. Birkholz is fondly remembered by AAESA personnel.
“Patty was always a friend of education,” stated Bob Hennip, current AAESA Board Trustee. “Starting when she became County Treasurer, she always included county school administrators in workshops and gatherings to foster a feeling of togetherness as we were all working together for the citizens of Allegan County. Later, in her years in the State legislature, she supported schools and kids, whether it was financing, student achievement, early literacy or extra-curricular programs. She was a champion for kids and always a supporter of Allegan County and will be greatly missed.”
Phyllis Drozd, AAESA Board President 1977-2013, had this to say about Birkholz. “I found through my many years of experience with Patty that she was always well informed on education issues and always very supportive of any program that benefited our students. She always made a real effort to attend educational events in her district.”
“When Patty Birkholz started as Allegan County’s State Representative, early childhood education was hardly on the radar of those in the Michigan Legislature. Patty would soon change that,” said Carl Ill, former AAESA Director of Early Childhood Education, 1999-2004. “She clearly understood the long term value of investing smartly in the lives of young children. Though genial and soft-spoken from the beginning, Patti quickly proved herself to be a powerful political voice. Her support opened doors for early childhood advocates. Patty convinced many Lansing political leaders from both parties to pay more attention and ultimately to ﬁnance early childhood education in Michigan. She had a warm smile, a gentle voice, and a unique ability to lead, unite disparate forces, and above all get important work done. I will miss her good natured personality and her incredible eﬀectiveness.”
AAESA will remember Ms. Birkholz for her efforts on behalf of the students of Allegan County.