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, 2012

The Congregational Summer Assembly continues to be the place we love and want to return to year after year largely because this community in the woods between two beautiful lakes has so many wonderful people who volunteer their time and talent for the good of all of us.  The Citations Committee is privileged to learn about these contributions, to get to know more about these wonderful people and each year to let you know more about the one who receives the Citation for Long and Valued Service to the Assembly. 
We live in an era that seems to be consumed with instant transmission of information, with what is new or “just about to happen” seeming more valuable than what has already happened.  But in the lounge of the Community Building a lovely quilt hangs on the wall that was made as part of our Centennial celebration.  The centerpiece is a beautifully stitched picture of the Meeting House with ghostly figures in period dress going off in one direction while others in colorful modern dress are entering.  The words stitched on it read “They led the way…We follow still.”  The recipient of the Citation for 2012 is a man who personifies that centerpiece.   He is a true bridge between those who founded the Assembly and established the values of our community and those who follow still. 

Through the things he has done for us all and the way he has served as a role model, he illustrates in his own person an often elusive concept – “The Assembly Way” – HAL KNIGHT.
The Henry Hafner family came here in 1914 from Pilgrim Congregational Church in St. Louis;  fellow church member W.B. Knight brought his family soon after.  Hal Knight Sr. and Mariel Hafner courted during a summer at the CSA, married in St. Louis, and Hal Jr. was born there in 1920.  When he was 7 years old the family moved to suburban Webster Groves and except for college and military service in WWII he has lived there ever since – since 1954 in the house that he and his wife Nan built.
Hal graduated from Webster Groves High School and then, in 1942, graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  After a year working at Curtis Wright in St. Louis he volunteered for the draft, was recruited by the Navy, went through a 3 month training program at Annapolis,  emerged as an Ensign and was soon promoted to Lieutenant j.g.  During the rest of the war he served on the USS Weeden, a destroyer escort, in both the Atlantic and Pacific .  He was officially an engineering officer but he also was the volunteer chaplain for all faiths on board – Protestant, Catholic and Jewish - which tells you a great deal about him.  As a sign of his versatility, he was the ship recreation officer as well. 
After the war he returned to Webster Groves, joined the family business, W.B. Knight Machinery Company, and reconnected with high school friends.  One of them was Bill Coffman whose sister, Nan, was 3 years younger and therefore had been somewhat invisible to the older boys during high school.  She got her degree in Fine Arts from Washington University and in 1946 she and Hal met during a church fashion show when Nan modeled the wedding dress as “Bride of the Future” with Hal as her escort as “Groom of the Future.”  Serendipity!  They were married in real life in 1947 and enjoyed just short of 60 years together raising 3 children in Webster Groves and watching grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow.  He passed many of his own passions and values down the generations and had two very proud moments when he pinned his own Eagle Scout pin on his grandson Christopher and later when Christopher graduated from Annapolis.
During his childhood his family would come from St. Louis for two weeks at a time, spending many of the summers at the CSA in various rented cottages or at the Lodge.  Later his parents bought Peter Evans’s “Fernside” cottage on the South Shore Road – it was built in 1906, originally as a logger’s cabin, and is known as the first Assembly cottage with running water.  With his friends Hal took part in operettas, painted flats and built props. But he had been a Sea Scout during his Boy Scout days and sailing was the activity he loved most, especially challenging sailing on stormy days with his good friend Bob Moller.  There were times when Nan looked over Crystal Lake from their screened porch during a storm certain that she would be raising their three small children alone!  And he would return exhilarated and beaming.
The things he did for and with the Assembly have always been a combination of quiet, behind the scenes activities on behalf of others and leadership opportunities that were presented to him because of his obvious skills and talents but accepted by him because of his strong sense of responsibility and service.  He spent many years on the Budget Committee as a member and as the Chair.  He was also on the Endowment Committee, then he became a Trustee and was President of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Executive Committee in the mid-90’s.
We now think of the Education Fund and the scholarships it provides to both CSA and Benzie County high school students as always having been there – but Hal was involved from the beginning, working with Cynthia Marshall Hood  and others to create the fund.  He and Nan made no claim as to their golfing skills but they happily played in the annual CSA golf tournament to help build the fund and he recalls the great time he and Rudy Lambert had on Main Street in Frankfort soliciting the local storekeepers for prizes.  He enjoyed attending the awards ceremonies at the high schools to explain the Scholarship Fund.
Hal was an involved and regular participant in the long standing “Tuesday Men’s Group” and was always an ongoing presence in and around the Assembly.  He didn’t just use his skills as an engineer on his own cottage but regularly helped his many friends with work on their cottages. A volunteer activity that he especially enjoyed was acting as a tour guide at Point Betsie.  He particularly liked to stay up at the light where he enjoyed telling the story of the light to visitors.  A favorite Point Betsie memory is of the day he was standing on the balcony outside the light and found himself looking down at a spectacular V of geese.  Nan shared his work at Point Betsie and took the map that was made of all the wrecks known to be in the lake, coloring and framing it to hang in the lighthouse.
Anyone who lives on the South Shore could count on seeing Hal every morning, rain or shine, cold or warm, walking his dog – first “Charlie Brown” and later one of a succession of Scotties.  Together he and Nan would walk the beaches to Frankfort or to Point Betsie and beyond while she would find objects for use in her art projects, especially rocks (often large and heavy) and interesting driftwood (often large and awkward) for him to carry home.
He still lives in the 3 story house in Webster Groves, responding to the daily phone call from the church and then going out to visit old friends or others from the church who aren’t as healthy as he is and who can’t get out.  He’s taught himself to cook so when helpful friends bring him dinner he can return the favor by baking muffins for them. 
Hal lives his faith as a humble and modest man who has always led by example.  It would be hard to find someone who is a better bridge between the early years of the Congregational Summer Assembly and the present with his ability to quietly demonstrate for us all what we mean by the “Assembly Way.”  Hal, I’m privileged to present you with this Citation on behalf of the entire Assembly and your name has been inscribed on the plaque at the back of the Meeting House.
After the service Hal will be on the patio outside the Meeting House where you can greet him and thank him in person.



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