The beginnings of Bay de Noc Community College can be traced back to 1948 with the passing of Mrs. Catherine Bonifas. At her bequest, $100,000 of her estate was given towards the building of a junior college in Escanaba. Discussions began in the early 1950s with speakers from two major universities (MSU & U of M), the State Dept. of Public Instruction and a community college board member from Traverse City holding a "Community College Conference" to answer questions on the wide range of topics of starting a college in Escanaba.
In 1956-57, a series of meetings were held with consultants from U of M, MSU as well as Escanaba Superintendent John Lemmer and Board, local citizens and local public school officials. The Escanaba school board eventually gave the coordination of this project to Commisioner Hagle Quarnstrom of the Delta County Board of Education.