|Room in the Meijer Center for Michigan History Named in Honor of
Eugene G. and Marilyn M. Wanger of Lansing
|LANSING, Mich.— The Historical Society of Michigan (HSM) has dedicated a room in its new Meijer Center for Michigan History to donors Eugene G. (Gil) Wanger, one of the last survivors of Michigan’s 1961-62 Constitutional Convention, and his wife, Marilyn M. Wanger.
The Wangers were honored with a luncheon on Friday (Feb. 21) where it was announced that HSM’s main publication meeting site has been named the “Eugene G. and Marilyn M. Wanger Editorial Conference Room.” HSM is the state’s oldest cultural organization. It is non-profit and not part of Michigan government.
The Feb. 21 ceremony included comments from Wanger, a retired Lansing attorney; Detroit-area broadcaster Chuck Stokes, who is president of the HSM Board of Trustees; and HSM Executive Director and CEO Larry J. Wagenaar. Also attending the dedication and luncheon that followed were family and friends of the honorees, members of the HSM Board of Trustees, and HSM staff.
The Wangers will be permanently remembered in this way because they made a significant donation to HSM, which will allow the Society to continue its mission of history education about Michigan. The Society has five pillars of activities that drive that mission: publications, conferences, educational programs, awards and recognition, and assistance for local historical organizations. More than 500 local groups are members of the Historical Society of Michigan, as are more than 5,000 individual households.
“Gil” Wanger (how did he get that nickname, anyway?) is one of only half a dozen surviving delegates to the Michigan Constitutional Convention in 1961-1962 (and the Constitution he helped write is still our Constitution today). As a lawyer, he is noteworthy for his longtime work in opposition to the death penalty. He is widely credited with getting a death penalty ban added to the Michigan Constitution, which endures. He has written a wide variety of articles on the subject.
Marilyn Wanger is a retired commissioner of the Michigan Court of Appeals, a former assistant Attorney General of Michigan, and the first female member of the Lansing Community College Board of Trustees. Both Marilyn and Gil Wanger have been members of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States for more than 50 years. They are also Life members of HSM.
A longtime chair of the Michigan Committee Against Capital Punishment, Mr. Wanger detailed his efforts in his book, “Fighting the Death Penalty, a Fifty-Year Journey of Argument and Persuasion,” published by Michigan State University Press. He has donated a large collection of his death penalty materials to the National Death Penalty Archives at the State University of New York in Albany. His collection related to Michigan Constitutional History is held in trust by the State Archives of Michigan.
Gil Wanger, a former chairman of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners, has also been deeply involved in local history and was a founder of the Ingham County Historical Museum in Lansing. He was one of the three original incorporators of the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing. His Ingham County History Collection is held in trust by the Capital Area District Library at its Mason branch.
Quite aside, Gil and Marilyn are longstanding members of the “Greek Interpreters” chapter of “The Baker Street Irregulars,” a national organization of devotees of the works of author Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous character, Sherlock Holmes.
The new Eugene G. and Marilyn M. Wanger Editorial Conference Room is where editors, graphic designers and photographers meet regularly to plan content for upcoming issues of the popular Michigan History magazine and quarterly Chronicle membership magazine. Both are published by HSM. The room is also home to HSM’s promotional and marketing planning for both print and digital delivery.
The Meijer Center for Michigan History, located at 7435 Westshire Drive, Lansing, MI 48917, is the headquarters building for HSM. Its purchase in the summer of 2019 was made possible by a generous donation from The Meijer Foundation.
The Historical Society of Michigan, publisher of Michigan History and Chronicle magazines, is the state’s oldest cultural organization, founded in 1828 by territorial governor Lewis Cass and explorer Henry Schoolcraft. The Society focuses on publications, conferences, education, awards and recognition programming, and support for local history organizations.