In an interview with the Redford Observer in 2005 on the event of her 90th birthday, Sybil Raeside reflected on many of her life experiences. One was her first trip to Redford in 1929. She visited a drug store and tea room on the corner of 5 Mile and Beech Daly. At the time, Beech was a two-lane dirt road. For her first job, Sybil followed in her father’s footsteps, working in telegraphy. “I roller-skated around with messages,” she said.
Sybil Raeside was born Sybil Kingin in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1915 and grew up in Kalamazoo. John “Jack” Cleland Raeside was born in Glasgow, Scotland. Sybil and Jack met in Detroit and married in 1936 at Greenville Methodist Church. Jack served in the Army in WWII. When he returned from the war, the couple and their two young children, John Jr. and Reva, moved to Redford. Their first house, which they bought in 1950, was on Kinloch south of Puritan. It was still surrounded by woods at the time. Sybil and Jack were both active community members in Redford Township.
Sybil was a member and longtime chair of the Redford Township Historical Commission. She and Jack were both involved with Redford’s Historical and Genealogical Society and the Sister City Commission. In 1995, Sybil was appointed to the position of Historian of Redford, succeeding Fred DesAutels after his passing. She was also a member of the Historical Society of Michigan, and the Friends of the Library. She worked as secretary of the Township Zoning Board of Appeals for 20 years and retired in 1976.
Sybil assisted in hosting Eleanor Roosevelt as part of a speaker series in the township in 1957. Roosevelt stayed at a house at Kinloch and Five Mile during her trip, and enjoyed dinner at Huck’s restaurant at Grand River and 7 Mile. She spoke at Thurston High School.
Jack’s service to the community included 23 years as a member of the Redford Union School Board beginning in 1958, serving as president, secretary, and treasurer. He chaired the Wayne County School Board from 1967-1968. He served with Sybil on the Township Zoning Board of Appeals as president. He was also on the Redford Planning Commission, the Site Committee, Community Development Block Grant Committee, and Economic Development Corp. He also dedicated much of his time to senior citizens. He chaired Senior Alliance, Inc., which provided services for the elderly in Wayne County. Other activities included the State Advisory Council for Mental Health, the State Senior Advocate Council, and the Out-Wayne County Area Agency for the Aged.
The Jack Raeside Building once housed the Redford Union Schools Administration and is now home to Redford Interfaith Relief.
Jack passed away in 1987 and Sybil passed in 2008. Both are interred at Acacia Park Cemetery.
Over the years, Sybil and Jack collected an assortment of documents on their various activities. In 2016, their daughter Reva donated some of the papers to the Redford Township Historical Commission. This is our first officially processed archival collection. Archivists prepare collections for research by arranging them in an order that makes sense, if needed; some collections arrive in disarray while others are already organized. Then, they describe those collections in a finding aid. The finding aid gives context to the papers by explaining some of the history of the creators, where the collection came from, and what is in it. You can view the finding aide for the Sybil and Jack Raeside papers here, as well as in-person at the Commission building.
Photographs in this post can be found in Box 3, Folder 7 of the Sybil and Jack Raeside papers. To see the collection, visit the Redford Township Historical Commission at 12895 Berwyn, on the first and third Saturdays of the month or Wednesdays by appointment.
This post was written by Stefanie Caloia, a member of the Redford Township Historical Commission from 2014 to 2019.