The Govitz family

Back row (left to right): Lenard Govitz, Sharon Mishler, John Govitz, Richard Govitz, and Duane Govitz. Front row (left to right): Louise Johnson, Jean Harger, Kenneth Govitz, and Betty Scully.

GLADWIN COUNTY – The Govitz family name is one known well to most throughout Gladwin County. The family spans across multiple generations, many of which have lived, worked, and thrived here and many who are active today within the local communities. 

According to an entry in the Beaverton City Centennial, the local family stems from Constantius and Catarina Gotowitz who had met and married in New Jersey in 1899 after Constantius migrated from Poland. After New Jersey, the centennial states that the family made moves between Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia while working jobs in coal mines, brickyards, and vineyards. 

From Cleveland, Ohio, the family moved to Fremont, Michigan in the early 1900s and worked in beet fields, and later moved into the Saginaw Bay area where they would work in the summer. In the winter, the family would travel back to Cleveland to work odd jobs. 

In 1921, the family had finally moved to Beaverton, Michigan to a 40-acre homestead in Beaverton Township. Constantius and Catarina had their tenth child in Beaverton, with their first two being born in New Jersey, and the other six having been born during their travels. Their sixth child was John Govitz (born in 1910), who had met and married Elizabeth Richardson of Beaverton in 1932.

John worked as a well-known welder in the area, and his wife, Elizabeth worked at the local schools. The couple has nine surviving children (pictured above), Louise Johnson, Jean Harger, Kenneth Govitz, Betty Scully, Lenard “Buck” Govitz, Sharon Mishler, John Govitz, Richard “Dick” Govitz, and Duane Govitz.

The oldest of the siblings is Louise Johnson at 87. Louise worked at the Gladwin Pines Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where she is currently residing, and according to family members, Louise has recently recovered from a positive case of COVID-19. Duane Govitz is the youngest of the siblings at 71. Duane served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and worked at Dow Chemical where his brother, Richard also worked. Duane’s son, Duane Govitz Jr. was a state champion horseshoe thrower.

Ken Govitz worked at Dow Corning and now continues to volunteer at the Beaverton Activity Center when able. Ken’s son, Rusty Govitz and granddaughter, Stella Govitz have both written numerous articles for the Gladwin County Record. Sharon Mishler worked for Beaverton Schools and had a 30-year career with schools in Michigan. John Govitz worked at General Motors along with his brother, Lenard Govitz. John and Lenard are both active members at their local church.

Lenard’s son, Scott Govitz is an active community leader in Beaverton, Gladwin County, and mid Michigan as a whole. Scott served as the Beaverton City Administrator, and during his time in the position, Beaverton’s Downtown Development Association (DDA) was established, M-18 was refurbished, and Beaverton’s streetscape was upgraded, which brought many modern layout changes to the city. He also served as the Mayor of Beaverton and helped in the founding of the Gladwin County Community Foundation.

Scott has been involved with many local organizations such as the Beaverton Lions Club, the Beaverton Area Business Association (BABA), United Way of Gladwin County, Beaverton City DDA, Workforce and Economic Development for Mid Michigan College, as well as many other groups and organizations in the area, many of which, he continues to stay involved in. He also played a crucial role in the development of the Beaverton Activity Center (BAC).

Currently, the youngest child descended from John and Elizabeth is their great-great-grandchild, Finn Govitz, son of Jared and Desi Govitz who was born in July 2019. The family had hosted numerous reunions in the past, the last of which had a turnout of 208 attendees. The family had also celebrated 100 years in America in 1999 with a float in Beaverton’s annual Fourth of July parade.

Other than Ken, who was born in Ohio, and Lenard and John, who were born in Detroit, all of the other children of John and Elizabeth were born in Beaverton. Eight of the nine surviving children currently live in Gladwin County with the exception being Betty Scully who lives in California. 

Many of the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren of John and Elizabeth still reside in the county today. Joining the family descendants of Constantius and Catarina are the George and Ethel Govitz family, most of who reside in the Gladwin area. George was the youngest child of John and Elizabeth, he married Ethel Martinosi in 1948. George and Ethel raised 14 children on a 40-acre family farm in Grout Township. 

Other descendants of Constantius and Catarina are reportedly living in other areas of Michigan, Ohio, New York, California, Georgia and elsewhere. It seems that with each generation, the Govitz family name continues to make an impact in the communities throughout America, and most definitely in Gladwin County.

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