Traverse City Business Hall of Fame: Meet the Inductees – Judith Lindenau and Bruce Rogers

The TCBN is excited to induct two new honorees into its sixth annual list of legends, recognizing people who have made lifetime contributions to the economic growth of the Grand Traverse area.

In 2013, we introduced the 10-member charter class. This year, we’re inducting the late Judith Lindenau, who was pivotal in the creation of BORIS, the Board of Realtors Information Service, which launched in 1980 as the state’s first computerized multiple listing service (MLS) and revolutionized Michigan’s real estate industry; and Bruce Rogers, longtime owner of Bartling’s downtown and now owner of Schmidt-Rogers Management. Rogers was a leader in establishing Traverse City’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and subsequently served for many years on the DDA board.

‘Mentor extraordinaire’ Judith Lindenau

Leader, teacher, musician, mentor, and visionary. Judith Lindenau was a Renaissance woman who excelled at the roles that shaped her 45-year career. She left a legacy that continues to impact real estate agents around the world as well as regional leaders and local family, friends and communities.

“Judith Lindenau was one of the first professional women I met in TC,” said Rotary Charities Executive Director Marsha Smith who moved to the region in the mid-1970s. “She was smart, talented, organized and strong. She was well balanced with both a creative artistic side and a logical data side. She was a poet, musician, advocate and CEO.”

Lindenau, who passed away in May 2014 at age 72, was best known as the executive vice president of the Traverse Area Association of Realtors (TAAR), a position she held from 1978 until her retirement in 2007. She was pivotal in the creation of BORIS, the Board of Realtors Information Service, which launched in 1980 as the state’s first computerized MLS and the precursor to today’s modern online system. At a time when real estate listings were maintained manually, and today’s internet was still decades away, BORIS allowed digitization and searching for all properties in the region, and was credited with revolutionizing Michigan’s real estate industry.

An Ohio native, Lindenau earned degrees from Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio and University of South Dakota, where she also taught for several years before relocating to northern Michigan. Before joining TAAR, she was an instructor of music (flute) and creative writing for five years at Interlochen Center for the Arts, and then went on to serve as Green Lake Township supervisor, where she was instrumental in creating the township’s first public library.

In addition to her work, Lindenau was an avid musician, writer and artist. She loved Celtic music and played multiple instruments including flute, dulcimer, hurdy gurdie and penny whistle regularly with TC Celtic and the Original Dulcimer Players Club, both which she helped found. She also expressed herself through painting, drawing, creative writing and blogging.

“Judith could be intimidating,” said Sondra Shaw Hardy of Traverse City. “Her intellect and abilities in almost every aspect of life – art, music, writing, drama, politics and more – could be frightening were it not for her warmth and friendliness. She was a visionary as well as an implementer. I am so honored to have known Judith and miss her greatly.”

Lindenau’s expertise was frequently sought and generously shared locally, nationally and internationally. She was on the board of the International Real Property Foundation (IRPF) where she wrote the IRPF’s “Handbook for Real Estate Associations” and helped create real estate associations in emerging nations, including work in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, Bosnia, Africa, Armenia and Georgia. Lindenau was active in the National Association of Realtors, serving on its strategic planning committee, as a charter member of the Realtor Certified Executive (RCE) certification board and on state committees. The national association honored her in 2003 with the prestigious William E. Magel Realtor Executive Award and, in 2014, with a named RCE scholarship in her memory, the Judith Lindenau, RCE, CAE Scholarship.

Locally, she helped form two charitable organizations focused on the region’s affordable housing challenges: Home Stretch and HomeStart. She also consulted with organizations through her own firm, JWL Consulting, as well as Northsky Nonprofit Network.

In particular, she was known for encouraging others, especially women, to pursue professional paths and personal goals. Many local leaders remember her influence as a role model.

“Judith Lindenau was ‘mentor extraordinaire,’” said former City Commissioner Jeanine Easterday. “Not only was she a strategic businesswoman, she was a kind and giving personality as well. She freely shared her passion for the area and her desire to make it a better place for all.”

‘Mr. Traverse City’ Bruce Rogers

Bruce Rogers is a salesman, a Spartan, a Rotarian, a consultant, a father and a leader. But, for many in Traverse City, he is simply known as “Mr. Traverse City.”

Rogers and his wife, Joyce, were the longtime owners of Bartling’s, a popular downtown women’s clothing shop they operated until it closed in late 2001. In addition to the original East Front location, additional Bartling’s shops were operated for several years at the Grand Traverse Resort and in Leland. Today Rogers remains active in property management, along with his son, Michael, at Schmidt-Rogers Management.

Rogers was a leader in establishing Traverse City’s DDA and subsequently served for many years on the board as well as numerous endeavors that strengthened and propelled downtown Traverse City into a thriving retail center.

“Bruce was instrumental in making downtown Traverse City the gem it is today,” said Bill Golden, DDA president and co-owner of Golden Shoes. “You still see Bruce walking downtown, talking to shop owners and visitors. There is so much pride.”

Golden, who also serves on the Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) board, notes that Rogers’ influence extended far beyond Traverse City’s boundaries. Rogers was a former MRA board chair and longtime board member who recommended Golden to the board five years ago. He was often noted by industry peers for his visionary leadership, impact and mentorship.

Golden noted Rogers’ personal style reflects the substance of his leadership.

“He is always impeccably dressed,” he said. “I remember wearing a suit to my first retailers meeting because I knew that’s what Bruce would do. When I was introduced, I remember saying that I could never be Bruce Rogers, but maybe I could dress like him.”

A Detroit native, Rogers was born in 1941 and grew up in a family of educators. His mother was a music teacher and his father was a grade school principal. Rogers attended college at Michigan State University, graduating in 1963. His early career was rooted in sales, including a stint as a traveling lingerie salesman. He and Joyce moved north to Traverse City in 1972 when they purchased Bartling’s from its original owners.

In addition to the DDA and MRA, Rogers served on the boards for the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce, Traverse City State Bank, Rotary Charities and the National Cherry Festival, among other community organizations. He was an early supporter for re-opening the State Theatre as a community center and was a strong advocate for the Park Place Hotel.

“Bruce was one of the key Rotarians involved in the purchase of the Park Place Hotel,” said Rotary Charities Executive Director Marsha Smith. “His enthusiasm and loyalty for both downtown and Rotary never waivers.
“Bruce has a unique way of reminding me about our roots and helping me sprout new wings.”