Remembering Mary Jane Jacobi

Each Interlochen summer opens with a general assembly on Sunday night and, for many years, the excited campers filing into Kresge discovered a stage full of faculty behind a row of officers and their spouses. When these leaders were introduced, the formula was almost invariably "so-and-so, director of this-or-that and his lovely wife (insert name of spouse)" While some of these wives also had jobs in the Camp, many were relatively invisible for the rest of the summer.

Such was not the case with Interlochen president (1971-1989) Roger Jacobi's "lovely wife, Mary Jane Jacobi." Yes, she was always in fine form cheerfully sharing the many social and ceremonial responsibilities of a president. But she had been deeply involved with Interlochen well before that time. Mary Jane was an accomplished pianist and found special delight in collaboration with student singers and instrumentalists, accompanying choirs, or in finding a partner who liked to play duets. In the years after she accompanied the University of Michigan All-State Choir, she continued to offer reassurance and support to both Camp and Academy students as their accompanist for lessons and recitals.

But possibly her most memorable quality was one she and Roger shared: their enthusiastic support for young people  -- not only for their artistic achievements, but through all of the trials and tribulations that strengthened their character and formed them as mature individuals ready to lead and inspire others. Mary Jane offered students her comforting reassurance in countless ways, whether in congratulations after their performance, her greeting when they entered the Jacobi home for a picnic supper, or simply in a wave and a smile when crossing paths on campus. She made them feel that their goals were worthy and that their performances were significant.

Buildings or awards are often named for a single individual, but we have three that recognize the unity of purpose of a very special team - the Roger E. and Mary Jane Jacobi Camp and Academy scholarships, and the Roger E. and Mary Jane Jacobi Citizenship Award given at each Academy graduation.  This award recognizes those students whose leadership best demonstrates the qualities that Mary Jane personified each day. Her example lives in the memory of all who had the privilege of her company.