Neighbors: William Broadnax – one man, one purpose

ST. HELEN- William Broadnax of St. Helen moved there from North Carolina. There, he had worked on a tobacco farm, served with the United State Marine Corp, and was an over the road truck driver for 15 years. It is through his truck driving career that Broadnax found Northern Michigan.

“I moved up here in 2007,” said Broadnax. “I was delivering with another driver who lived in this area and I fell in love with the place, including the weather. People asked me if I was crazy moving to a place that gets a ton of snow.”

While out on the road, he began experiencing leg pains and other issues.  It was during a bad incident with the pain that doctors discovered that he had Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) and needed to have surgery to save his life.

“They operated on my leg several times over April of 2010 through March 2011.  I was under the knife seven times before they were done,” said Broadnax.

Early retirement was not appealing to Broadnax, so he took a part time job with Richfield Township, cutting and weed whacking the grass at the cemetery.  This led to a position working as security for Artesia Beach.

“I loved working with the people of the community. People recognized me right away and always had a friendly word.”

Broadnax helped assemble and place the fishing pier and kayak launch at the Richfield Township launch. He also took part in restoring Carters Cove

“I remember having to break through an inch of ice to get the thing (fishing pier) into the lake through the boat launch,” said Broadnax. “My name is on the board at the site alongside others that made it happen.”

In 2015 Broadnax became a member of the St. Helen Optimists Club which works with the youth of the community. He said that he just didn’t want to become bored with retirement and wanted to help the youth be their very best.

“You see so much disrespect and that has to change. The kids here in town, they recognize me and always have something good to say. I want our community to flourish and the best way to do that is to see that kids are being nurtured and that they have a mentor,” said Broadnax.

He especially likes to work with the young men of the community helping them to stay out of trouble and find better outlets for their energy.

Over the past few months, Broadnax began announcing and DJ’ing in the community. He announced the softball games during this year’s Bluegill Festival. He enjoyed harassing the players as they took to the plate or mound, bringing roars of laughter from the teams and the crowd.

“He was awesome,” said Kathy Jernigan, “we will have him announcing next year’s games as well. He was so funny and entertaining; he kept the crowd and players rolling throughout the game.”

In his spare time he enjoys fishing, and golf.

“If we start them (the kids) on the right path from the beginning, we might be able to stop the craziness that is going on in the world today,” said Broadnax  “I would like to see our community recognized for the great kids that we have and the way we work together for the greater good. St. Helen is an awesome place to live and I am glad that I found it.”


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