Family ties through an Interlochen Volunteer’s eyes

On quiet days during the summer, if you walk along the pathways coursing through the Interlochen campus, you may catch sight of a slowly trolling golf cart, laden perhaps with a passenger or two, and piloted by a silver-haired, blue-eyed Interlochen institution: Margaret Beery.

Margaret gives the rolling tours here at Interlochen, taking visitors, guests, locals, parents and students on guided expeditions of the campus and its elaborate past. She speaks lovingly of each and every building, bringing to life Interlochen’s history with incredibly in-depth background and little-known insight. Give Margaret 60 minutes, and she’ll give you nine decades of fascinating facts.

Her title now is Coordinator of Campus Tours, but her own history with Interlochen stretches back 18 years, beginning with her work in Admissions in 1998. As a Green Vest Volunteer, she began working in the Information Booth in 2007, and became Coordinator in 2010. But no matter what her name tag may say, she still believes she has one main job.

“I feel that it’s my job to get people to love Interlochen as much as I do,” she says with a trademark smile. “You’d be surprised how many people, even in this area of Michigan, don’t really know the scope and the importance of this place.”

“There’s a lot to talk about!” she added. “Interlochen’s more than just a camp or a school. There’s no place else like it, really.” Her affinity for Interlochen comes from a deep connection to this entire area, and from its connection to her own life.

“My mom sang in the first festival choir here,” she remembers, “and all three of my children have been campers and have had jobs here. In fact, my father-in-law was the head cook in the Stone Hotel in 1952.”

Her husband, John, worked here, too, beginning in 1955 and more recently as Curator of the Greenleaf Collection from 1991 to 2013, with many of the collection’s rare instruments now showcased in the Fennell Music Library.

“This is a special place,” smiles Margaret, “and I just love telling people about it.”

Margaret recently took on an even stronger advocacy role at Interlochen by serving as a Family Campaign Ambassador on behalf of all volunteers. She and John are long-time supporters of Interlochen and especially, Interlochen Public Radio.

To many, Margaret is Interlochen. She may have been the first voice they heard on campus, the first hand they clasped, the first smile that greeted them. She is not alone. So many have become a part of the lore of this place. And so many have yet to claim their place. Margaret’s tale is one of passion and commitment to a place that, for her and legions of others, is home.