Alumni Plaza the center of the Dowagiac campus


Chase has been fighting fires for 30 years

Ted Chase has been fighting fires for 30 years

Ted, Kari and Emily

Ted, Kari and Emily

Galien Fire Chief Ted Chase

Galien Fire Chief Ted Chase

Ted and Kari (Dickman from Edwardsburg) met at SMC

Ted and Kari (Dickman, from Edwardsburg) met at SMC in a speech class

SMC’s ‘Feel’ That Drew Ted Chase 30 Years Ago Hasn't Changed a Bit

Published on February 1, 2024 - 1 p.m.

In the 30 years since he graduated from Southwestern Michigan College, Berrien County’s Ted Chase returns regularly to the campus where he met his wife. Daughter Emily this fall will carry on the family tradition of playing in the band.

Attending SMC allowed him to join the fire department “at a young age before life got in the way,” and, after 30 years serving the community, he holds the position of fire chief “and looks forward to helping the community for years to come.”

Chase studied accounting at SMC and works as a benefits advisor for Nulty Insurance, consulting local employers to design and manage insurance programs provided to their employees.

Nulty Insurance is a full-service insurance agency headquartered in Kalamazoo, with satellite locations in Otsego, Iron Mountain and Buchanan, where Chase has served on the Buchanan Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors since 2002, including president from 2008 to 2015.

He has been a professional consultant in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana since 2001 after working a few years in the accounting field.

He lives in Galien with his wife and two daughters.

He graduated from Galien High School in 1993 and chose SMC “because it had the look and feel of a much larger institution and a great music program of which I hoped to be part.”

“I am not sure why anyone chooses to study accounting,” Chase said, “but I liked math and numbers and following the rules, so accounting seemed like a logical career choice.

“My plan was to get my initial two years out of the way, then transfer to a four-year school. When I learned about the Ferris State University alignment that would allow me to live at home, continue my volunteer firefighting and finish my bachelor’s degree without the added expense of a major university, I knew that was the right path for me,” Chase said.

Having led the trumpet section in high school, “I wasn’t ready to give up music just yet. I was fortunate to work with Dr. (Jonathan) Korzun as my director all five years at SMC. Since most kids come and go after two years. I was always surprised that extra time with me didn’t drive him to retirement a lot sooner. We have never drifted far from SMC. We always look forward to our annual trips to campus to enjoy the band concerts.”

Kari (Dickman) Chase graduated from Edwardsburg High School.

“We met in a speech class that I really didn’t want to take,” but Chase’s admissions counselor insisted he would ultimately need that class to graduate.

“A few weeks into the semester, a couple of friends of mine from high school wanted to introduce me to a classmate they thought would be ‘perfect’ for me. They were surprised when we already knew each other. The rest is history. Our first date was dinner and attending the spring jazz band and choir concert. We were married in 2000 and look forward to the years ahead.”

 “Kari’s goal was always to teach in a small school in the town where she lived. Her first job after college was in Galien, where she taught kindergarten until the decision was made to close the school system,” Chase said. “She was immediately offered a position in Buchanan where she teaches preschool today. She loves her job. The kids and parents love her, too, as she helps make their first school experience a great one.

“Despite my years of Chamber of Commerce involvement in Buchanan, I’ll never forget the day she was no longer ‘Ted’s wife’ and I became Mrs. Chase’s husband. It’s a better title, anyway. Plus, watching 4-year-olds react to seeing her around town like it was a Taylor Swift sighting is pretty cool.”


‘The fire department was a natural fit for me‘

Galien Fire Department is an all-volunteer organization consisting of 14 members that protects a community covering 24 square miles. It has mutual aid agreements with surrounding departments, including those in northern Indiana.

“The fire department was a natural fit for me. I grew up a few hundred yards from Galien’s firehouse,” he said. “Part of the emergency alerting system involved a siren that could easily be heard from town. I learned the difference between the siren tests and those for training nights and the siren for an emergency and couldn’t wait to watch the fire trucks head out to make a difference. My two best friends growing up had dads who were members of the fire department.”

Chase was recently given a tour of SMC’s athletic facilities.

“What a great investment for the kids,” he said. “It is exciting to see the return of Roadrunner athletics, and I look forward to catching a game this school year. I was even part of the alumni  group that came back for the unveiling of the new fight song.”

Korzun, band director for 28 years, 1991-2019, came out of retirement to conduct the debut April 21, 2022, as the Collage Concert finale.

“It was fun to take the stage again, especially for something that exciting,” Chase said. “It has been fun watching campus evolve over the years and, even better, the look and feel that drew me there 30 years ago hasn’t changed a bit.”