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Northern Michigan Business Donates Property to St. Mary Cathedral


The Christmas season brought a special gift to the Diocese of Gaylord and St. Mary Cathedral. Alpena Supply Company/Great Lakes Pipe & Supply has made a generous donation of facilities located next to the St. Mary Cathedral School. Company President and Owner Bill Kelly of Alpena said his company made the donation “in honor of our customers and business associates.”

The property is adjacent to St. Mary Cathedral School, located directly west of the school building, and includes approximately two acres of land and four buildings situated on Sheldon Street between Indiana and Mitchell Streets.

St. Mary Finance Council Chairperson Anita Lawnichak indicated the process to complete the transfer has been in the works for about seven months.

“Mr. Kelly told us that when his company was moving operations from that site to another location in Gaylord, he was outside with his company’s Gaylord Branch Manager Jim Herzer when the elementary children came outside for recess,” Lawnichak said. “He asked if that was the only place the children had to play because it was such a small area and when he was told that it was, he said he made up his mind at that very moment to donate the property to the parish in hopes the school could expand its boundaries.”

Kelly is a firm believer in the important foundation that Catholic schools provide. He attended Alpena Catholic Central School through his junior year, when the high school closed.

“Our company has been very fortunate to have succeeded over the years,” Kelly said. Alpena Supply Company has been in business since 1943 as the “The Source for the North” and expanded its territory over the years to include the Gaylord and Petoskey locations, operating those branches as Great Lakes Pipe & Supply. In addition, all three locations operate Classic Kitchen & Bath showrooms, which in Gaylord is located on Main Street. In total, the company has 42 employees and provides products for plumbing, heating & air conditioning equipment, kitchen & bath cabinetry and fixtures, as well as industrial pipe, valves & fittings to industry and municipalities.

The donated property was acquired in 2009 and was being used until recently when the Gaylord warehousing operations were combined with the expanded existing Great Lakes Pipe & Supply location on Dickerson Road.

“St. Mary Cathedral School has a need for more space for its operation and I hope this will help provide many possibilities for growth and development,” Kelly added.

Lawnichak and Fr. James Bearss, Pastor of St. Mary Cathedral said there are no immediate plans for use of the facilities, but the parish Building and Grounds Committee and the Finance Council will begin discussing a variety of possibilities soon.

“With the public announcement of the donation, I am hoping that visionaries will come forward to help propose some wonderful suggestions,” Fr. Bearss said. “I am really grateful for Mr. Kelly’s most generous gift and appreciate his Christmas spirit.”

Lawnichak agreed saying “We have been extremely blessed and envision this donation enriching the lives of students, parishioners, and the entire Gaylord community, as new ministries are developed because of this gift.”


Bill Kelly, President and Owner of Alpena Supply Company/Great Lakes Pipe and Supply (center), recently donated two acres of land and four buildings to St. Mary Cathedral. Gathered for the presentation were (left to right) Larry Prusakiewicz, Gene Skiba, Mari Anna Wahr, Jim Herzer, Bill Kelly, Anita Lawnichak, Ken Nowicki and Fr. James Bearss.

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