Mendel Center Mainstage renamed in honor of longtime benefactor

Lake Michigan College has unveiled the new name of the mainstage at the Mendel Center.

The mainstage is now the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center Jenkins Theater, named in honor of theater benefactor Rolfe Jenkins, who died in 2022. LMC held a reception Thursday to make the new name official.

Dennis Jenkins, the brother of Rolfe Jenkins, told us his brother was a nuclear engineer who couldn’t sing, dance, or act, but he loved the theater. He would see shows all of the time, often at the Mendel Center.

He left a lot of what he had, a lot of what he had in his fortune, to the college,” Dennis Jenkins said. “He wanted half of it to go to scholarships for students, the other half to come to the performing arts, the things that he loved being part of.”

Jenkins says it’s a thrill to see Lake Michigan College rename the Mendel Center Mainstage for his brother.

LMC President Trevor Kubatzke told us he knew Rolfe Jenkins.

He has been a member of the main stage group for years,” Kubatzke said. “He came to almost every show. Even during our last campaign, he donated, and there’s a lecture theater in the main building, the Jenkins Lecture Theater. So, he loved education. He loved the arts.”

Throughout his life, Jenkins showed an unwavering support for theater, from high school plays all the way up to Broadway. Friends and family gathered at the Mendel Center Thursday not only for the unveiling of the new name, but also for an Eric Clapton tribute show as Jenkins was always quick to tell people he and Clapton shared the same birthday.

A plaque with information on Jenkins is now displayed outside the Jenkins Theater.


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