May Fete is a Monken Family Tradition

If you are a Centralia High School alumni or had a child attend Centralia High School, then you are familiar with the Centralia May Fete tradition that has existed for over 100 years.  The Monken Family has been proud to be a part of this tradition and all family members have participated in the dances and/or court during their high school years.

Jan Monken’s mother, Dorothy Rixmann Miller, was the 25th May Fete Queen.  At that time May Fete was held outdoors and Dorothy made her own dress and train.  Her daughters, Jan, Melissa, and Wendy, were all attendants their junior year.

Kim Monken McMillian’s daughter, Megan Marcum, was a flower girl for Stacey Smudrick, a freshman attendant and May Fete Queen.  Her sister, Andrea Walton, was freshman attendant that same year.  Both girls were involved with dances when they weren’t on the court.  Last year Megan’s kids, Hadley and Eli Marcum, served as scepter bearer and crown bearer.

Shawn Monken Hartmann, was a flower girl for Carol Jo Vaccaro and an attendant her senior year.  Her children, Bredesen Hartmann and Katie Hartmann, along with their cousin, Will Miller, served as the trainbearers and flower girl for Megan Marcum.  Bredesen Hartmann participated in the couples dance every year and became a May Fete escort during his junior year.  Katie choreographed and participated in many dances all four years.

Wes Monken, was the trainbearer for Jan Johnson when he was seven.  He wore the first white tuxedo ever used in May Fete and participated in the dance. This year Wes’s daughter, Jalyn Monken, will wind the May Pole for her last year at Centralia High School. She has participated in May Fete dances every year.  Wes’s daughter, Addison Monken, will be dancing in May Fete for the first time!

This year’s May Fete will be on Thursday and Friday, May 3rd and 4th in Trout Arena. The theme is “My Favorite Things.”  Visit our MonkenNissan community page to see what other community events we have enjoyed.

The History of Monken Automotive

 

In the 1960’s

In the 60’s, W. Harold Monken was a partner with David Woolbright at the Standard Gas Station in Centralia. Harold was always the hot rodder spending much time improving his vehicles and racing them at night and weekends. His brother, Wayne Monken, and father, Walter Monken, helped build a small garage/dealership that opened as Car City on November 4th, 1967 on Shattuc Road west of Centralia.

In the 1970’s

In 1971, a Japanese gentleman from Datsun was canvassing the area to find a dealer partner to represent what is today known as Nissan. Harold was interested and the business later became Car City Nissan. The 70’s were a great time to own a dealership that offered inexpensive vehicles with great gas mileage. They sold the shiny Datsun vehicles as fast as they could get them.

In the 1980’s

In the 80’s, Harold recognized a dealership trend to become bigger in order to survive. He explored adding Chrysler when Booth Motors closed. In 1987, he flew to Chicago with his attorney, Bill Crain, to close the deal with Chrysler, but had a last minute change of heart. He ultimately sold Car City Nissan to his General Manager Mike Gansauer and Mike’s father in law, Bob Cleary. In 1988, Mike & Bob purchased Meier Chevrolet and moved from Shattuc road. The business was now Car City Chevrolet Nissan. Several prominent business partners, including the Geary Family and the Cooksey Family were investors.

In the 1990’s

In the early 90’s, Harold opened Car Country for a few years, and then worked for Jansen Chevrolet in Germantown. In 1996, Bruce Geary told Harold that they were ready to exit the auto business. Harold returned to Car City and asked Mike Jansen to be a business partner with him in order to purchase the dealership.

However, GM already had three dealerships in Centralia. They were Dobbs/Mahan Buick GMC, Car City Chevrolet and Seeburger Oldsmobile Cadillac. GM was strategically cutting dealers with a plan called Project 2000. GM only wanted two dealers in the Centralia market and wouldn’t approve the sale of Chevrolet. It took months to negotiate. Ultimately Chevrolet was sold to Seeburger, and Car City became Monken/Jansen Chrysler Plymouth Dodge Nissan on May 1,1997. Harold’s son, Wes Monken, joined a month later in June 1997 relocating from the Chicago area. Harold and Wes purchased out Mike Jansen in 1998 and dropped the name Jansen to become Monken Dodge Chrysler Plymouth Nissan. Later that year, Monken’s purchased the Jeep franchise from Dobbs/Mahan in Centralia.

2005 – Now

In 2005, discussions began about the Monken’s acquiring Dobbs/Mahan Buick GMC. The plan was to have Harold’s daughter, Kim Monken McMillan, run the dealership. In February of 2005, Harold was rushed to the emergency room. Our long term attorney, Marvin Miller, met us at the hospital to sign a Power of Attorney over to the family. This is how Kim learned that she was coming to work for the family! The purchase of Dobbs/Mahan Buick GMC was finalized in June of 2005. Harold had a significant leak on his mitral valve caused by an infection. He battled through three valve transplants, a stroke and ultimately passed away on July 22, 2006. With great patience and hard work, Wes and Kim found a way to make both stores thrive. In late 2013, Lance Marcum son-in-law to Kim, joins the team. Monken Buick GMC purchases Schmidt Chevrolet in May of 2014 and relocates Buick GMC to the their building across from Walmart to become Monken Chevrolet Buick GMC.

In June of 2018, Monken’s purchased Tyler Toyota Buick GMC in Mt. Vernon. It is now Monken Toyota Buick GMC.  The dealership has been adding employees and expecting a high level of customer service.  The sales associates are non-commissioned and further solidify our move to transparent market based pricing.  Our inventory is growing daily in the Toyota and GM showrooms. Monken Automotive now has 9 brands in 3 locations with Buick GMC in both the Centralia and Mt. Vernon stores.