NMU professor Nell Kupper put her French language expertise to use at a private dedication ceremony for Marquette’s newest float copper display at Presque Isle Park. She met descendants of the city’s namesake, 17th-century French missionary and explorer Jacques Marquette, also known as Père (Father) Marquette. Dr. Jean-Marie Marquette and his wife, Béatrice, traveled from their home in France for the event. Kupper conversed with the couple in their native language. She also presented them with two coffee mugs featuring the NMU Languages, Literatures and International Studies department insignia.
“Although their English was flawless, they were delighted to speak French,” Kupper said. “The Marquettes were lovely and truly gracious people, as French people tend to be. They were grateful to be invited to an event of great significance to their family history in France, and to share this history with the Americans living in the U.P. They enjoyed this visit to Marquette, which was not their first, and they assured us it would not be their last.”
Kupper said the ceremony was organized by Carl Lindquist of the Superior Watershed Partnership and the Rydholm family, whose patriarch C. Fred Rydholm was also a great explorer in his own right.
“The spirit of exploration that has endured in the ancestors of Jacques Marquette and in the heritage of the Rydholm family has brought to light the unique history of Marquette and of the Upper Peninsula, with its thousands of ancient copper pits,” she added. “The U.P. also has an abundance of float copper found nowhere else in the world.”
The purchase of the float copper was made possible through funding by individual donors and the Marquette Community Foundation. The piece is now on permanent display in the stone enclosure of what was once the old wolverine cage of the former Shiras Zoo in Presque Isle Park.