Stories

Citation for Long and Valued Service to the Assembly, 2009

Jim and Tamara Transue Royle, August 2, 2009

There is an amazing amount of volunteer activity that turns the Congregational Summer Assembly from simply a beautiful summer vacation spot into the strong, supporting community we all love. Each year we recognize a person or couple whose contributions over the years have been extraordinary and I get to tell you about them. Several years ago in the Sunday comic section of the newspaper there was a large picture of a forest. From within and all around the forest bars of symphonic music rose and swirled in joyous profusion as one small figure stood in front waving a baton. In the corner one man said to another: “It’s always in there – it just takes someone special to bring it out.” Among the things that are “always in there” here at the Assembly are our love of music and our love of our shared history. So it is especially fitting that we present the 2009 Citation for Long and Valued Service to the Assembly to two people who are specially gifted at bringing those things out for all of us to enjoy – Jim and Tamara (always Tammy to us) Transue Royle.

I’ve known them for years and thought I knew them – but here is some of what I have learned.

The Transue family first came to Crystal Lake from Flint in the late 1940’s at the invitation of friends and they stayed at the Northway Hotel in Beulah. Realizing that this was an ideal place to bring a family during those years when polio epidemics kept children away from city parks and pools they bought the cottage at the west end of Crystal Lake called “The Hermitage.” They returned every year and until their teens Tammy and her sister Andrea’s attentions were focused on the Junior Fleet at the Yacht Club. But at age 15 Tammy was invited by her friend Mary Alice Clarke to sing with her in the CSA Choir and that was the beginning of an enduring involvement with the Assembly. So music introduced Tammy to the Assembly.

Music also introduced Tammy to Jim – on their second day on campus as freshmen at Albion College when they were both auditioning for the college choir. A 4 year college romance ensued followed by a wedding a few weeks after graduation. That first summer Jim was a counselor at a camp on a small lake down state. He was invited to visit the Transues over a weekend and was overcome by the size, color and clarity of Crystal Lake – and he joined Tammy in the choir. In the 50 years since they have been regular members of the choir and often sang duets for the offertory. In 1992 they were delighted to move into their own cottage just up the hill from the Meeting House which they named Ritornello, a musical term meaning “a little return.”

Much of what they have done for the Assembly has been as a couple but each of them has established a unique role as an individual. Tammy was an elementary school teacher in the 60’s but turned to volunteer work early and enthusiastically while raising Tim, Mike and Megan. She directed the Primary Choir of the First Congregational Church in Saginaw for 22 years, served on the Albion College Alumni Association Board of Directors, and was named a Saginawian of the Year in 1993.

At the Assembly the choir was only a starting place for her. She was on the Women’s Association Board, serving as President in the 80’s, and has co-chaired the Artists and Artisans event where she and Marjorie Butler have regularly played piano duets as background music. She is well known for the letters and notes she writes (by hand – on paper – with a pen!) to acknowledge, thank, encourage, support – and she even presented an Adult Workshop on the Joys of Letter Writing. She has helped with children’s operettas both as a producer and as a director and was one of the founders of the classic CSA singing group “The Naughty Nine.” Tammy was on the committees planning the 75th and 100th Anniversary celebrations and spearheaded the Assembly cottage histories project.

After serving as Assistant Archivist for 7 years, in 1998 she was appointed official Assembly Archivist by the Board. During her tenure there have been many wonderful developments – especially the evolution of the former Manager’s Cottage into Pilgrim Place – the home of the archives and a little CSA museum, and a wonderful meeting place. We all know of the fire that damaged and could have destroyed Pilgrim Place in May of this year. While other volunteers have been cleaning and painting, Tammy has gone ahead undaunted with her plans for this year’s History Night – promotional note: it will be this Friday night, August 7. Her sense of humor that becomes evident in the Archivist’s reports at the Annual Meeting always causes the committee chair who follows her to call her “a tough act to follow.”

But Tammy will say without reservation that the best thing she ever did for the Congregational Summer Assembly was to marry Jim Royle. A clinical child psychologist, he served as director of the Saginaw Valley Child Guidance Clinic, then for 20 years was director of a regional educational facility for students with special needs. He now holds a full-time professorship in special education teacher preparation at Saginaw Valley State University.

He has been an integral part of CSA musical productions for over 30 years playing, among other roles, a memorable Jud Fry in “Oklahoma,” Wilfred Shadbolt in “Yeoman of the Guard,” Mr. Bumble in “Oliver,” and Teyve in “Fiddler on the Roof.” Some of his favorite moments include singing a duet with Ken Cox in “Pinafore,” trying to upstage Steve Elrick in numerous comedy roles, and partnering many times with Linda Schopp. He continues to be involved as a stage director in the operettas year after year.

But there is another side to Jim’s volunteer commitment to the CSA. After serving on several committees over the years including the Nominating and Personnel Committees, he became a Trustee and then President of the Board of Trustees in the 1980’s. After his term ended he became a trustee of the Pilgrim Fund which he currently chairs.

If Tammy’s humor is that of the historian, Jim’s is that of the stage performer – larger than life in every way – as anyone who saw him playing doubles with Steve Elrick will attest to: Steve in his buffalo horn helmet and Jim wearing his orange dress from “Finian’s Rainbow” with a shiny blonde wig.

As with so many of our CSA volunteers, the months away from Pilgrim are equally filled with service and last fall Tammy and Jim became the first alumni couple to be jointly inducted as distinguished alumni at Albion College.

So if you find that memories of music stir with the leaves of the trees, you can be sure that much of that music was created by and the memories of it are safely stored by the Royles. Tammy and Jim, we thank you for all you have given us. Your names are engraved on the plaque at the back of the Meeting House and your friends can greet you after the service to thank you in person.

Citation for Long and Valued Service to the Assembly, 2008

Linda Williams Schopp, August 3, 2008

We on the Citations Committee have the annual good fortune to recognize the extraordinary volunteer service of one among the many who make the Congregational Summer Assembly the place that it is. How many of you – who love where you live during what we think of as the “off season” – find yourselves saying at one time or another “But this is really home” – as you enjoy an activity that brings back powerful memories from the past or walk the paths and beaches and are grateful that they are as wonderful as you remembered. One reason we can all enjoy these things is that others who also feel this is “home” have volunteered their time and talent to maintain our shared Assembly home and its traditions. And for some people you could say that giving back to the Assembly is truly “in their blood.” I think you’ll agree with me that this is true of the 2008 recipient of the Citation for Long and Valued Service – Linda Williams Schopp.

It can’t be easy being the eldest child of a legend. And being the eldest child of two legends must have been even more challenging. Both of her parents, Tom and Emilie Williams, received the Citation in separate years to honor their individual contributions. From the day Tom Williams came to the CSA in 1946 as Recreation and Music Director the spotlight was on the four Williams children. Linda was always expected to do better, to do more, and to behave herself. Well, I can speak from a life time of observation, that she did do better – at swimming, tennis, singing, for example – and she did do more, because her involvement was always simply a given. Let’s not speak of adventures like walking across the wet clay courts after a rain or trying to swim in from a becalmed sailboat in mid-lake (definitely not proper procedure). Shall we just say that “good behavior” is in the eye of the beholder.

It was well known that Tom and Emilie had what could be described as an “anti-nepotism” policy, which basically meant that family members really had to prove themselves to get jobs or roles in shows if Tom and Emilie were in a position to do the selecting. So when Linda was in high school and was hired to teach swimming and to be a lifeguard it was the Board of Trustees who had to hire her – Tom wouldn’t do it because he didn’t think it would “look right.” She has powerful memories of those years – especially of being required to go to the beach on bad days and having to clean the beach if there were no lessons or lifeguarding duties, even if no one else had to be there. During college her voice teacher told her not to teach swimming because she’d ruin her voice – Linda had learned to teach using the powerful “Williams yell.” So she went to Interlochen to work for two summers, and ended up teaching tennis – not quietly.

Linda grew up in Galesburg, Illinois, and went to Illinois Wesleyan where she majored in music education. She met Tom Schopp there and they were married in December of 1961 by Jesse Peirce – another long time Assembly connection. Her ability to be flexible and her total honesty about herself are captured in a story of her early teaching years. She was going to be teaching vocal music 4 days a week in Atlanta, Illinois, which was near Lincoln where her husband Tom was teaching. To fill the 5th day she interviewed in New Holland, IL, where they wanted her to teach ½ day of vocal music and ½ day of band. She said “I don’t do band.” They said “We need to have you do band.” Linda said, “You’d have to be desperate to hire me to do band.” They said “We are.” She taught band.

After a number of moves Linda and Tom ended up in Saginaw, MI, partly because she wanted to be closer to the lake. She taught K-12 vocal music and was known for her work with small singing groups. Also, during some years of budget cuts, she taught math, phys ed and did library work in the schools – and she did them all well – even when she was just a day ahead of the math class! When she got her Masters in the mid 80’s she decided not to go to the commencement but had a “graduation ceremony” here on the CSA ballfield. Her mother played the old portable pump organ, her many friends raided the costume room, and everyone around came and sat in the bleachers. It was memorable.

So you would not be surprised that music at the CSA has formed a major part of her life here – from her first big role as “Jillie” in “Out of the Sea,” she has been involved in nearly every operetta and musical we have put on. She has played lead roles and specialty roles (Katisha in The Mikado, tipsy Arabella in Smoky Mountain, Iolanthe herself in Iolanthe, Mrs. Bumble in Oliver). Two years ago she was one of the 5 who produced and performed in Nunsense. (Note: In 2009 they will put on a sequel – not to be missed!) She has been music director of countless shows and she has helped with anything else that needed to be done for them. Always, every year, she has sung in the choir and she is responsible for maintaining the music library – putting out the music each week for rehearsal and church and collecting and filing it away after the service each Sunday.

So you would take her involvement in our music activities as a given – using her talents for our benefit. What you may not know about her is how very much of her time she has given to the Assembly over the years in ways that are totally unrelated to music. I keep track of these things, and even Linda was surprised with the quantity and variety. Her belief is “If you’re up here and not active it’s not as much fun.” If that’s true, then she must have been having a lot of fun! She has been on the Women’s Association Board and served as Secretary in two separate terms 20 years apart; she has been a Trustee and also served as Secretary to the Assembly for 6 years; she chaired the Nominating Committee for several years and was on the Athletic Committee (which became the Tennis Committee). She was on the Citations Committee for many years, is on the By-Laws Committee and currently chairs the Calendar Committee. And she is a mainstay of the Membership Committee, even making a special trip to Frankfort this past January to help with the Associate Membership mailings.

It has always been Linda’s willingness to use her time here in ways that benefit all of us that give her service special meaning. Her contributions would have been extraordinary if they had never ventured beyond using her musical gifts. But the same person who told the New Holland schools “I don’t do band,” and then went ahead to “do band” said to me “How could I have been Secretary so much? I don’t even write letters.” But a Secretary was needed so she went ahead and did it. She will do just about anything the Assembly asks of her – as long as it doesn’t interfere with tennis.

Linda, I’m delighted to present this Citation to you. Your name has been engraved on the Citation Plaque at the back of the Meeting House and I know that everyone looks forward to thanking you personally after the service.