Ernst Floeter took interest in photography after he was repatriated.
“He was caught by the Americans,” Floeter’s daughter, Dorothea Martin, said. “He was a POW over here for two years and sent back to Germany. He was treated very well. He loved America and he wanted to come back.”
Martin said she does not know what led Floeter into photography. For her it could be that the manual labor jobs he was doing began to get hard.
Floeter died about a year ago, leaving a basement full of negatives. For three weeks now, his daughter has been in the process of giving each set of negatives back to their rightful owner.
Martin said so far, she has researched more than 60 names of people who once used her father’s services.
Grand Ledge resident Jim Palmiter met Floeter in 1963.The photographer helped him with his family tree for the last 50-60 years.
“I learned a lot from him and he went with me on my travels through the political district,” Palmiter said. “I ran for Clinton County chair of the Republican in 1968 but, I was unsuccessful.”
Retired postal carrier Vicky Hunter is one of many Grand Ledge residents who have had their negatives returned.
“The first time we took my mother’s dog and then in ‘67 when I was married I went there to get my pre-wedding pictures taken and he photographed my wedding and reception,” Hunter said.
Hunter remembers when Floeter first came to Grand Ledge.
“Everyone knew his story,” Hunter said. “They got engaged in the town right of way, he and his wife.”
Hunter said her late husband, George Hunter, was always talking to Floeter in German.
“He was just a neat guy,” Hunter said. “Very civic-minded, he was always bubbly and that’s how I remembered him.”
Martin said she is asking for a donation for each negative which will be donated to the Grand Ledge Emergency Assistance Program, an organization that assists residents with their bills.
“I’m doing a fundraiser for our local emergency assistance program,” Martin said. “His negatives are still giving back to the community.”