BIG RAPIDS – Jack Batdorff of Big Rapids will be the recipient of an honorary doctoral degree for business and industry from Ferris State University during commencement ceremonies at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 9, for the university’s College of Business.
Batdorff started working in the family newspaper business as an 11-year-old collecting for classified advertising on his bike in his home town of Manistee. He worked his way up to the press room where he poured hot lead for setting type.
After graduating from Manistee High School in 1955, he went on to the University of Michigan where he studied journalism. During that time he also worked for the Ypsilanti Daily News and also covered crime for United Press International. After graduation, he worked in advertising sales at the Grand Haven Tribune. While in Grand Haven, Batdorff’s father, John, offered him the job of running the family newspaper in Big Rapids, but only for half of what he was making, and only if he turned the paper’s fortunes around in six months.
And turn things around he did. Over the years, he expanded the family business by developing a regional company that includes daily newspapers in Big Rapids and Manistee, weekly newspapers in Benzie, Lake and Osceola counties. The company also publishes telephone directories under the PDS brand and entered the commercial printing market in 2001 with a new printing facility in the airport industrial park. He is chairman of the board of the company and co-owns the business with his son, John, the businesses’ fourth generation of Batdorff ownership.
He and wife, Susan, also have two daughters, Suzi and Wendy, and three grandchildren, Anna, Hope and Zack. His passion for art is reflected in his support of Artworks, where he recently served as president. His lengthy list of other community and professional involvement includes being past president of both the Michigan Press Association and the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce; founding board member of the Mecosta County Community Foundation; past board member of the Mecosta County Medical Center Foundation; and many, many others, which attest to his advocacy for the Big Rapids community and the profession of journalism.