Stories

Citation for Long and Valued Service to the Assembly, 2014

On Sunday, August 3rd we gave Anne Wilson Dupre the 2014 Citation for Long and Valued Service to the Assembly. Thank you Anne for exemplifying the spirit upon which the CSA was founded!

In 1913 Edgar and Lola Armstrong drove north from their home in Fenton, Michigan, because he had decided a cherry orchard would be a good thing to invest in. After several days they discovered the very young Congregational Summer Assembly, said “Let’s forget the cherry orchard!’’, and bought property here at what is now the corner of Edwards Avenue and Fairchild. Soon they built their cottage and named it “Woodway.” Succeeding generations of the Armstrong family, including Maurice and Daphne in the 5th generation, have summered in that cottage and from the beginning there were usually three generations living together. (Anne’s cousin, Nancy Clapp Martinez, recalls sleeping in the attic with Anne, listening to the adults as they sat around the fire below.) Anne’s mother, Margaret Starr Willson Leutheuser, is 101 now and was here every summer of her life until traveling became too arduous.
Anne grew up in Philadelphia and during her teens took part in a program developed by the Quakers that helped young people learn how to volunteer effectively. As we will see, in Anne’s case this program was extraordinarily effective.
After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at Brown she went to Harvard where she was administrative head of the honors program for government and economics. The head tutor for government was the close friend of a brilliant young Canadian with a Ph.D. in government and economics named Stefan Dupre. The friend called Steve and said “Wait till you meet Miss Willson - you’re really going to like her!" He did. During their 50+ years of marriage they lived in Toronto and she devoted her intelligence, energy, and knowledge of how to volunteer effectively to community initiatives that seek to improve the quality of life of children, especially with regard to mental health concerns. In pursuit of those goals she has chaired countless major boards and committees in Toronto and Ontario, often as the first woman in that capacity, and she has a long history of association with important mental health projects. For twenty years she has been a strong voice for ethics in medical agencies, hospitals, and mental health centers. The range and the depth of her volunteer activities in Toronto is quite extraordinary and she has been recognized with the Ontario Volunteer Award, the Junior League of Toronto Award of Excellence, and the Frederick G. Gardiner Award, Metropolitan Toronto Citizen of the Year.
Anne has always worked very hard during the year and would arrive at Woodway with the feeling that many of us have: "At last! Let me just sit - take a long walk - see my friends.” But she also recalled the wonderful days of her childhood here when she and her friends were free to wander the woods and beaches and felt nurtured by the community. Because she values this community she has always volunteered her knowledge and her time to support the CSA and help maintain that sense of safe freedom she experienced growing up here. She has served as a Trustee and on the Nominations Committee to find new Trustees; she was first a member and then chair of the Research and Resources Committee and a member of the Budget Committee. For thirteen years Anne was on the Membership Committee, for 3 years as its chair, and during that time she was also on an ad hoc Voting Rights Committee established by the board. She was on the Long Range Planning Committee and - as the CSA started its slow move into the 21st century - she served on the Computer Committee. For the last several years Anne has been on the By-Laws Committee where her broad and deep knowledge always helps to clarify the issues. She clearly knows more about the things under discussion than most committee members but always manages to make you feel that, of course, you knew that all along. Somehow things seem to go on more smoothly after her input. She may have wanted to just sit and relax - and she is quick to say that she does do that - but she has continued to stay actively involved. And she has pulled her share of garlic mustard! As we have passed the halfway point in the summer season of 2014 and can see the signs that our Brigadoon will be disappearing into the mists again we are thankful for the insights and sense of order imparted by Anne over the years that give us confidence that next year, when we are ready, the doors of the CSA will open for us. Thank you, Anne, for your service to the Congregational Summer Assembly. Your name has been engraved on the plaque at the back of the Meeting House. Everyone is invited to greet Anne and thank her in person at the end of the service.

 

 

Citation for Long and Valued Service to the Assembly, 2013

August 4, 2013

The Citation for Long and Valued Service to the Assembly is given to someone who exemplifies the spirit upon which the Congregational Summer Assembly was founded. The recipient this year is a fine example of the “CSA Way” – Jane Cooper

Jane’s family has a long history with the Assembly dating to the first years here on Crystal Lake.  Her grandmother, Mary Deas, was the secretary/bookkeeper for the Schauffler Missionary Training School in Cleveland, Ohio, and she babysat for Margaret and Grace Schauffler during the CSA’s earliest summers here.  She tented with others from the school and after marrying Anton Sicha, a widower with two daughters, they rented and subsequently bought the Cooper cottage on Lion Lane now owned by her brother.  They had three more daughters – Ethel, the eldest, and her sister Jean passionately loved Crystal Lake.  Ethel married Clark Cooper who became a physician with the US Public Health Service and they had four children, the eldest of whom was Jane.  Because of Clark’s work they moved regularly and the Assembly became their “constant,” as it is for many of us.

As a teenager Jane worked from 1953-56 as a waitress in the Assembly Dining Hall and then in the office from 1957-59 (the Assembly owned so little office equipment that she had to bring her own typewriter from college to type the Western Union telegrams and all the office documents and letters).  A couple of her more mischievous pranks were leaving footprints on the wet clay tennis courts and painting polka dots on the doghouse (it was scheduled to be repainted anyway!).

She has always loved the music here – and this marks her 62nd year of singing in the senior choir – first under Tom and now Ken. Jane started appearing in operettas in 1947 and has been in most of them since, not only as a performer but also as a set and costume maker. One year while she was living in New York City her work kept her away and she missed every rehearsal of The Mikado, including dress rehearsal. She arrived on opening night having learned the music on her own and Jean Petrick was responsible for seeing to it that Jane was in the right spot at the right time.

Jane attended The University of Michigan, graduating in 1960 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She worked in Washington, DC, that summer replacing the secretary to the Director of the White House Conference on Aging which was to be held in January of 1961.  Returning to Ann Arbor in the fall she was hired by the Division of Gerontology at the University as an editor to edit conference proceedings.

The next year Jane married Michael Baity. When he finished dental school they moved to Galveston, Texas, where Mike fulfilled his military obligation with two years in the Public Health Service and their daughter Jennifer was born. They then moved to Evanston, Illinois, where they lived for four years and Susie was born, and in 1968 they moved back to Ann Arbor. Meanwhile, in 1964 they were delighted to be able to buy the Noyes Cottage on Fortune Avenue, practically next door to Jane’s family cottage.

Jane completed a Master’s Degree in Educational Gerontology at Michigan in 1972 and worked in that field at the University doing training in retirement planning. This led to a job with Equitable Life in New York City where she worked for 16 years doing retirement planning and management development programs.  AXA, a large international insurance and financial conglomerate in Paris, acquired Equitable and Jane became part of a team based in France doing management development. She retired as Director of Corporate Training at Equitable in 1998 and returned to Ann Arbor.

Jane has been very involved at the CSA since 1966 when, with a newborn and a 3 ½ year old, she was asked to become President of the Women’s Association.  She has served two 3-year terms on the Board of Trustees – 23 years apart – serving as Vice President during her second term.  She has also been the Secretary to the Board of Trustees, chair of the Long Range Planning, Citations, and Membership Committees; and has served on the Executive, Personnel, Waterfront, Youth, and Ad Hoc Survey committees. In addition to committee work, over the winter she has digitized the oral history tapes for the archives and made CDs of them.  She values being able to give back to the place and the community that means so much to her.

Jane and her brother have taken on the family job of recording daily the temperature of Crystal Lake – at the same time and place each day.  She has swum across the lake three times, most recently (and for the final time, she says) at age 71 – without getting swimmer’s itch.  In her spare time she works at the Art Fair, waters the Meeting House flowers, pulls garlic mustard and at the cottage runs the Cozy Curtains Internet Café and Showers for the benefit of her extended family. She is the family historian and traveled to the Czech Republic to do research on the family genealogy.

Jane’s love of hiking has taken her to many European countries in the past eleven years and last summer she traveled with her daughters and grandchildren, Emily and Fletcher, trekking in Switzerland.

Jane’s life in Ann Arbor is also a busy one.  She has been chapter advisor and, subsequently, House Corporation President of Tri Delta sorority where she lived during college. She is on the board of Lurie Terrace, a high rise apartment building for seniors, where her brother Clark, Jr. – known to us as Corky – lives, and she is an avid supporter of the University of Michigan and its sports teams. Nearly every year since its inception Jane has taken part in the Women’s Football Academy which raises money for the University Cancer Center – and she says there’s nothing like the thrill of playing nose tackle in Michigan Stadium!

Citation for Long and Valued Service to the Assembly, 2010

All congregations rely on those who share their time and talents for the benefit of the community as a whole. Each summer we on the Citations Committee get to recognize the extraordinary volunteer service of one among the many who make the Congregational Summer Assembly the place that it is. Every year most of us leave the grounds at the end of our time here paying attention only to closing our own cottages. When we return in the spring or summer one often-heard expression is “It looks as if the waterfront and beach just got rolled up like a huge carpet at the end of August and unrolled again for the start of a new season.” Everything is just where it was last year and the year before and the year before that – and you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how this happens – except perhaps this July when people asked “Where’s the slide?”. Our common areas are preserved and improved by the tireless efforts and skills of individuals whose work is so often done far from center stage that their contributions can be overlooked or taken for granted. Today we recognize with the Citation for Long and Valued Service to the Assembly someone who fits that description completely – Peter “Pete” Weir.

Pete’s grandmother, Mabel Penfield Wilson, first came here in 1906 and the family has been a mainstay of Wildwood since the mid-40’s. As it was for many other families from St. Louis, Pilgrim was a cool and inviting destination during the hot summer months. Pete, his sister Joan and brother Tom were here all summer as children and, like so many of us, Pete found jobs during high school and college summers so he could be here and not ‘there.” He started by delivering phone messages and telegrams for the CSA office during those years before individual cottages had telephones (let alone cell phones and internet service), he worked at Bill Olsen’s Assembly gas station, and he worked at the canning factory in town – with no car, that meant bicycling in and back every day. Pete went to college at Cornell and the University of Missouri, graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. Unbeknownst to him, Nancy Kinter, who grew up on the adjoining property to the Weirs in St. Louis, came to the CSA with her family from the ages of 10 to14, staying in the Lodge. After college Pete discovered “the girl next door” and, while they were dating, he talked about having her visit this “funky” little place where his family had a cottage. I don’t need to tell you the rest of that story.

Pete’s work as a refrigeration engineer took them to Minneapolis to live and he was able to develop and indulge his passion for sailing and all things connected with water. A championship sailor, he also loved to restore old boats – on Lake Minnetonka in Minneapolis he was part of a group that rebuilt boats that had sunk in the lake and he took a leading role in the restoration of a 1906 steam boat, the Minnehaha, that had been sunk in 1926. Joel Buzzell says “Give him a weatherbeaten board and he’ll build a boat around it!” Family and friends think of him as the original “McGyver” – he can solve everything mechanical and probably has more tools than McGyver ever had on the TV show. But there are those in his family who say the least he could do is raise something useful from the bottom of Crystal Lake and restore it!

He was always a good problem solver, taking things apart and putting them back together to see how they worked. After one project undertaken in high school we can be glad he decided to get some professional education in the field before he got his hands on CSA facilities. He and some friends decided to build a swimming pool at the house in St. Louis. They put up wooden forms and when it came time to pour the concrete the forms fell into the bottom of the pool. It took a pick axe to break up the concrete and the bottom of the pool always had idiosyncracies.

Two years before he retired, Pete and Nancy tested out what it would be like to spend more than a two week’s vacation here so he worked from the cottage and started his volunteer activities here in earnest by becoming involved with the Waterfront and Buildings and Grounds committees. One reason the waterfront looks as it should every year is that Pete takes out the boat moorings each fall and puts them back in place in the spring. He waits until the last fall swimmers call it a season, then takes in the lifeline, carefully coiling it and organizing it for storage in the doghouse. In the spring, after McDonald puts in the boat dock Pete checks it out and he has repaired it with new hardware.

When Pilgrim Place was nearly destroyed in that devastating fire last year the many volunteers who helped with the clean up and restoration have told me that it was Pete who took the lead on the project, calling on his many areas of expertise and giving hours and hours of labor. He says he likes to see things done right and through his time and talents that project was done right.

Likewise – if you look at the bell tower here on the Meeting House you wouldn’t notice anything different about it. But last fall they discovered it was rotting away so it was taken down and put in the Buzzells’ back yard. It was Pete who figured out how to rebuild it so that the finished bell tower looks the same to us but is actually far better than new.

When all creative and urban-legend-driven efforts to keep seagulls away from the rafts and lifeguard stands failed, Pete designed the ungainly but totally effective pole-and-fishing line apparatus that has made the rafts a desirable swimming destination again.

The “Yield to Uphillers” sign at the Michigan end of Alden-Edwards Avenue? A Pete Weir creation. And he has devoted hours of volunteer time to the Point Betsie restoration project as well.

I am told that he can build anything and that he can fix anything – but here is fair warning – don’t ask him to do anything with a computer! He not only can’t fix them – he seemingly can’t help disabling them!

So, Pete, we won’t ask you to fix the office computer – but we are happy to be able to “bring your light out from under the bushel” and let everyone know how much of what we take for granted is the result of your quiet efforts. 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.