Black History Month salutes Ludington businessman

Mr. William Henry and Mrs. Deloris (Kelly) Lindsey were gifted with a healthy boy, born on June 20, 1938, in Kewanee, Mississippi. His name is Joe Les Lindsey. He attended school at T.J. Harris High School in Meridian, MS. At Harris High, Joe played the tuba in the band and studied auto mechanics and carpentry. While in Mississippi, Joe worked at a men’s clothing store and learned to do alterations, press clothes and dress mannequins. With this training he started working at a dry cleaners in Mississippi.

Joe met and married his high school sweetheart, Fredna O. Armstrong, on July 15, 1956. After getting married, Joe and Fredna moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where they started their family. To that union were born six children. Once they had their kids they decided to move to Saginaw, while he continued to look for work to support his family. He did find work in Ludington and during his first year working in Michigan, he found the small town of Idlewild. He move his family to Idlewild in 1966, where they decided this was the place to raise their family.

Being an industrious young man with a family to support he sought employment at the Blue Ribbon Cleaners in Ludington. He worked for the owner of Blue Ribbon Cleaners for many years and being familiar with the business he was given the opportunity to take over the business. He did not hesitate and became the first African American to own a business in the Ludington area in 1972 and he continues to operate the business in Ludington on South James Street today. Joe became successful by having drop stations in Oceana, Mason, Manistee and Lake counties.

He purchased the now historical house known as “The Old Wilson House” in Idlewild. They have owned the house for more than 40 years. They now also own the Historical “Wilson Grocery Store” located in Idlewild, as well. The store has been completely remodeled in its interior and is currently called “Joe’s Paradise Lounge”, where Joe loves to entertain the locals and the many visitors that come to Idlewild to vacation or the summer residents that come back home for the festivities.

Joe has been involved in the Community of Idlewild as a Captain of the Yates Township Fire Department, later becoming the Assistant Fire Chief. He assisted Paul Hopkins with his ambulance service, as they took the sick to various locations in Michigan. He was the president of the Idlewild Lot Owners Association, an active member of the Detroit Idlewilders and the Founding President of the Lake County Merry Makers. During his earlier years he was a bartender at the Flamingo Club, Paradise Club, Rosanna Bar and Pearls Bar. He also ran a breakfast club on Idlewild’s Williams Island. He was active in the motor cycle and snowmobile in Lake County. During the winter months the snowmobile club would organize a day to give free snowmobile rides to the youth in the community.

As much as Joe was involved in the community, he was still a devoted family man. He and his wife Fredna have been married for 55 years. He taught his children how to survive. His son Joe Jr and wife Kelly have two sons and two daughters and three grandchildren. His daughter Melba and her husband David have one son and a daughter. His daughter Phyllis and her husband Mahdi have three sons (one is deceased), one daughter and nine grandchildren. His daughter Letha has one son and one daughter. His son Eric, is currently in California. His youngest son Reginald is deceased. Joe worked hard to support his family, with words of wisdom to his children and grandchildren.

Joe is still devoted to supporting his children and guides them to be productive citizens and strong supporters of their endeavors. Regardless of how busy he was, he was never too busy to be a part of their lives. In other words, Joe is a magnificent father, loving husband and loves to do what he can to enhance his community.