~  BOULEVARDIERS & BENEFACTORS ~  
                            Alfred B. Connable II (1904-1999) and Irving S. Gilmore (1900-1986)  
                                                        Kalamazoo, Michigan, c.1958.
                                          ~ Photo courtesy of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum ~

                   These two great friends helped to dream the dream forward of a new Kalamazoo. 
                   Both Al Connable and Irving Gilmore came from old Kalamazoo families who left
                   a legacy of business acumen, arts patronage, and public service a generation before.
                   Al and Irving built these traditions into their own lives, yet could embrace new concepts
                   for a changing urban landscape in downtown Kalamazoo.  

                       Irving Gilmore, third from right; Alice, second from right, and others enjoy lunch 
                       "on the mall" at Gilmore's Ice Cream Parlor, early 1960s. 

In 1959, Kalamazoo's Burdick Street became America's first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall.  The 
street was torn up and pavement was replaced with park-like amenities:  grass, gardens, benches and
fountains-- an outdoor plaza dedicated to the pedestrian shopper.  Cars were banished to parking lots 
within walking distance.  The mall started out with two blocks of Burdick Street, with a third one added
in 1960 (and a fourth one in 1975).  The Burdick Street Mall transformed the heart of Kalamazoo's
downtown retail district.

According to Al Connable, in his 1998 book A MICHIGAN MAN, The Life & Times of Kalamazoo's
Al Connable, as told to Tom Thinnes: 

 "... The roots of the concept of the Kalamazoo Mall go directly to Bob Brown (Industrial State Bank and the County Board of Supervisors).  As I recall, he and a couple of other fellows were standing on a downtown corner brainstorming.  At the time, Bob was a Chamber of Commerce officer.  They took the idea to Irving Gilmore, who told me about it... The Mayor was Glenn Allen, Jr., and he skillfully carried the political ball. 

A tremendous amount of planning and coordination for the Kalamazoo Mall was done by Elton "Buzz"
Ham, who taught political science at Kalamazoo College, and became a tremendous resource for downtown."    -A MICHIGAN MAN, p. 270.

Kalamazoo city officals and business leaders tapped the talents of Victor Gruen and Associates of 
New York, Detroit and Los Angeles to come up with a "Gruen Plan" for Kalamazoo's downtown core.   
Revitalization of the downtown economy was needed as competition from outlying shopping centers 
was becoming a reality.  The "Downtown Kalamazoo - 1980" plan became a model for other downtown pedestrian shopping malls across the country.  Kalamazoo was re-named "The Mall City", a nickname that replaced the earlier "Celery City".

                    Mall planners from Gruen and Associates meet with Kalamazoo business leaders.
                    Gazette photo that appeared in Museography magazine, a publication of the 
                    Kalamazoo Valley Museum, Summer 2009, p. 14.        (click on to enlarge)                                                

Irving Gilmore, prominent businessman and benefactor, served as a member of the local planning 
committee, called the Downtown Kalamazoo Association.  The reality of this new pedestrian mall had
landed literally at the front doors of Irving's department store, Gilmore Brothers at 143-147 South Burdick Street.  Irving generously funded the purchase of new awnings for each business that had a 
storefront on the mall.

                                          ON THE MALL - KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN
                                 Water Wonderland Card Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan
                                                          -Postcard from the 1960s   

Irving saw the new mall as an opportunity to expand his business, and opened Gilmore's Ice Cream
Parlor in the early 1960s.  It offered traditional soda fountain treats and light lunches, and had a great
outdoor seating area, just steps from the flow of pedestrians.  It was a popular spot with downtown
shoppers, and became the center of a "café society" of sorts for Al and Irving and their circle of friends
and associates.  Gilmore family friend Walt Disney, and visiting dignitaries from Africa were also 
entertained there as guests of Irving and Al.  The Ice Cream Parlor was the place to be, and be seen--
"on the mall".

                       Café Society ~ Friends join Irving Gilmore at the Ice Cream Parlor, c.1964.  
    From right: Clark den Bleyker, Kalamazoo Symphony Personnel Manager; Alice in beige ensemble;
    Irving Gilmore, in profile, seated next to Alice, and other friends and associates.

The Kalamazoo Public Library has two excellent online articles about downtown Kalamazoo. 
Just click and read!

"The Dilemma of Downtown Parking" - Kalamazoo Public Library   

"From Wheels to Heels:  The Mall City" - Kalamazoo Public Library

                                         ON THE MALL, KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN, 
                                      Water Wonderland Card Company, Grand Rapids. 
                                                           -Postcard from the 1960s  

                            Garment labels of businesses on the Burdick Street Mall in the 1960s,
                                      and one jewelry box label from Shumaker's Jewelers.  

There are two excellent articles on the the Kalamazoo Mall in Museography magazine, Summer 2009,
Volume 8, Issue 3, "A Look Back at Kalamazoo's Downtown Mall", p. 12, and "The Making of the
Kalamazoo Mall", p. 14, publication of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.  

Read them online now!  Just click on the KVM link, then click on General Information, then On-line Magazine. Look for the listings of Museography under Archived Museographies, and scroll down and click on Volume 8, Issue 3, Summer 2009. 


 Celebrating 30 years of the Kalamazoo Mall
                             Back cover of Flower Fest 1989 Souvenir Program, July 19-23, 1989.                                                                                                                                   
                                                  Alfred B. Connable & Irving S. Gilmore 
                                                  Friends ~ Kalamazooans ~ Downtowners

World traveler and friend of U.S. Presidents, Al Connable stayed true to his roots, and was one 
of Kalamazoo's most enthusiastic supporters.  "A happy presence" is how he was described by 
friends Timothy and Joy Light, in the Foreward to Al's book A MICHIGAN MAN:  The Life & 
Times of Kalamazoo's Al Connable, as told to Tom Thinnes.

Born and raised in Kalamazoo, Alfred B. Connable II (1904-1999) graduated from the University 
of Michigan, and Harvard Business School.  He returned to Michigan and worked in Detroit, and 
served on the Board of Regents at the University of Michigan.  He followed in his father's footsteps 
in the investment field in Kalamazoo, and was a Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra board member 
and benefactor.  He also served on the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees.

Born into a distinguished Kalamazoo family, Al's father Alfred B. Connable Sr. was a mayor of
Kalamazoo, and served as Board Chairman of the Kalamazoo Symphony when it was founded 
in 1921.  In an editorial in the Kalamazoo Gazette that same year, Connable Sr. urged Kalamazooans
to support the newly-formed Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra under the management of Leta Snow.

         Al Connable II, Kalamazoo Symphony Board Member, at the American Symphony Orchestra       
         League Convention in St. Louis, in 1960.  Pictured with Al is Helen Thompson, who, together
         with KSO Founder Leta Snow, co-founded the American Symphony Orchestra League in 1942,
         now called the League of American Orchestras.

There was something about Al Connable.  His high cheekbones and craggy profile made an 
unforgettable impression.  He looked the part of a distinguished gentleman from another era--
dapper, tweedy, and pipe-smoking.  Al was hail-fellow-well-met whenever he ran into a friend. 
You were enveloped in an enthusiastic embrace, accompanied by loud guffaws.  He was genuinely 
glad to see you, and his bright eyes just sparkled. 

Al Connable was a Kalamazoo "guru" of sorts.  He exuded local history, loved it, and appreciated
what his forebears were to this community.  He knew who he was, and created a sense of occasion
wherever he went.  He loved what was going on, and always seemed to be in the center of interesting
happenings.  He remembered things about others, and always wanted to hear the latest.  Al Connable
lived in the past, present and future all at once.  

Any given weekday morning, let us say, around 11:30 a.m., sometime in the early 1960s, Al could be seen rounding the corner from his East Michigan Avenue office onto the Burdick Street Mall with his chocolate brown standard poodle named Fauvette, stopping by Gilmore's to look up his friend Irving.  They would have lunch outside at the Ice Cream Parlor, holding court and hobnobbing with all the passers-by.  In a nearby flower bed stood a stone cherub nicknamed "Little Irving".

                                                   Photo of Little Irving by Lance Ferraro

Al's good friend and fellow downtowner Irving Gilmore, was owner and proprietor of Gilmore
Brothers Department Store, est. 1881.  Equally dapper, Irving preferred pinstripes to tweeds.
A tailor in the Burlington Arcade in London, England, knew his suit measurements.  Irving was
a talented pianist, and attended Yale University to study music.  It is said that Irving Gilmore and
Cole Porter were roommates.  

After graduating from Yale in English and Music in 1923, he studied in New York for a year, and 
tried his luck at being a concert pianist.  

In 1924, Irving returned to Kalamazoo to help run the family business, and continue his love of music 
in more supportive roles.  Irving lived a a Victorian house in downtown Kalamazoo, the perfect place 
for his large Steinway piano.  Years later, when Al and his wife Dorothy lived near Irving, the two 
friends would walk to work together:

"I can remember many a warm spring morning walking on South Street from my home toward my 
downtown office and I'd hear the beautiful sounds of piano music coming out of Irving Gilmore's
open windows.  He was having his usual morning culture-workout.  Classical, popular, jazz, he 
loved all kinds of music and kept his windows open so passersby could enjoy his playing."

"Then we would walk to work together, past the Civic Theater, through Bronson Park, he to 
the Gilmore store and I to my office in the American National Bank Building.  We often talked 
about the wonders of music and of our hometown of Kalamazoo.  He loved them both and so did I."

                                                                                      -Al Connable, A MICHIGAN MAN, p. 295

Irving Gilmore's wheels were always turning on behalf of his business, and he had more imaginative ideas for the store, bringing in a kind of big-city sophistication that made Gilmore Brothers the centerpiece of downtown Kalamazoo retail.  
                                                             Gilmore Brothers logo 
                                                             on a gift box, 1960s. 

Like Chicago's Marshall Fields, Gilmore's had the best windows at Christmas, and the best Mr.
and Mrs. Santa Claus this side of Macys in New York City.  How many of us remember the 
perfectly powdered  and coiffed perfume counter sales ladies we said hello to on our way to shoes, 
hats, and handbags?

Gilmore's installed the first escalator in town (1955).  In the 1960s, Irving helped to organize the
Kalamazoo Women's Symphony Association's annual fashion show fund-raisers, which featured
clothing lines from his store.  One year, he even arranged to have fashions flown in from Paris!

Irving was fun and formidable at the same time.  His dry sense of humor and smart repartee kept
you on your toes.  He was naturally shy, and demurred from drawing attention to himself.  Irving's
generosity to the citizens of Kalamazoo in overt ways made him a legend in his own time, and his
behind-the-scenes assistance to individuals made him a beloved figure.  He was sometimes called
"Uncle Irving".

With the phenomenally successful business his father and uncle had started, Irving S. Gilmore carried
it forward.  A foundation was set up.  When Irving died in 1986, he left to Kalamazoo untold riches.
Irving's legacy lives on in the world-famous Gilmore International Keyboard Festival.

"In the Key of G" video clip shows rare film footage of Irving Gilmore as a young man.

Meanwhile... back in the 1960s, Al and Irving's friends would gather for lunch each Spring at the
outdoor tables of Gilmore's Ice Cream Parlor to celebrate the return of Little Irving to his place of
honor on the Kalamazoo Mall.  Western Michigan University Professor of History and literary wit,
Willis Dunbar wrote several iterations of an Ode to Little Irving over the years.  In 1965, Dunbar
waxed poetic with the following verse:

       "I must confess
       At first I thought all this was dizzy
       I thought to cavort here
       I was too busy
       For Little Irving
       Those passing
       Must regard this somewhat wacky crew
       As slightly touched
       To waste their time on a statue
       Of Little Irving."   -Dr. Willis Dunbar, Ode to Little Irving (excerpt), 1965.

                       Little Irving celebrations at Gilmore's Ice Cream Parlor, various years, 1960s.
                        Irving Gilmore is pictured in the top left snapshot looking over his shoulder.
                                                                 (click on to enlarge)

           Graphic artist Fred Ashby was married to one of Al's nieces. 
           He is holding Al's poodle Fauvette.  A Chinese Foo Dog
           was also invited to the Little Irving Party that year.


This tradition of honoring their cherubic friend lasted until Little Irving's mysterious disappearance
in the early-1970s.  Kalamazoo Gazette feature writer Dave Hager mused on this very subject in an
article on May 21, 2001:

                                                                  (click on to enlarge)  

Al Connable was compelled to write A MICHIGAN MAN after the death of Irving Gilmore in 1986:

         "... it was a person's death that invigorated me to relive my life.  When my dear
         friend Irving Gilmore died in January of 1986, the tragedy was not only losing 
         a truly wonderful colleague, but that his life and times were never put down on 
         paper, chapter and verse.  Many of his remarkable and little-known contributions 
         to this community were lost.  Worse yet, his great stories about those events were
         stilled."    A MICHIGAN MAN, Preface, p. 13.

           A MICHIGAN MAN:  The Life & Times of Kalamazoo's Al Connable, as told to
           Tom Thinnes, Priscilla Press, Allegan Forest, Michigan, 1998, hardcover, 338 pp.
           with over 100 photographs, and an extensive index.

                           Priscilla Press:

Alice said it best:  "God bless the first families in this community.  They were willing to put their money
back into the town and its people."      -A MICHIGAN MAN, p. 287.

Keep Scrolling....

AL CONNABLE ~ Michigan Man
Kalamazoo's boulevardier par excellence

Why do French expressions come to mind when thinking about
Al Connable?  Boulevardier, raconteur, joie de vivre, and je ne
sais quoi all seem to be apropos when describing a man who isn't
even French!  In fact, he's pure Michigan...

Born in Kalamazoo, Alfred B. Connable II (1904-1999), lived most
of his life here, but was a graduate of the University of Michigan,
and Harvard Business School, and was a world traveler.

Al experienced the trials and triumphs of the 20th century through
his involvement in civic affairs, the arts, politics, public policy,
entrepreneurship, and education.  A music lover, Al Connable was
a longtime Kalamazoo Symphony board member, benefactor, and enthusiastic audience member.  In his nine-plus decades, he knew
so many people, and he had so many friends.  Al found time to play,
and had great "pals" (Al's word) to help him kick up his heels.

Everyone had a good time when "The Admiral" was in charge!

        Postcard of the Kalamazoo Mall, early 1960s, Water Wonderland Card Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.

Al instituted a springtime ritual that took place on the mall starting in the early 1960s.  Local luminaries
would gather to celebrate the return of a stone cherub to the flower bed across the way from Gilmore's
Ice Cream Parlor.  The cherub was dubbed "Little Irving", named after Al's great friend Irving Gilmore,
owner and proprietor of Gilmore Brothers Department Store.  This "ceremony" was a Connable caper
to be sure-- one with kind-hearted humor and generosity at its core, which was Al's essence.

Alice's Archivist recommends A MICHIGAN MAN:  The Life & Times of Kalamazoo's Al Connable,
as told to Tom Thinnes, The Priscilla Press, Allegan Forest, Michigan, 1998, hardcover, with over 100
photographs, and an extensive index.


A MICHIGAN MAN can be purchased at Kazoo Books.
(269) 385-2665, (800) 516-2665

There are also copies in the Kalamazoo Public Library.
Type in book title/author in "Search Catalog":

If you love local history, or are new to Kalamazoo, or want to refresh your recollection of a beloved
and larger-than-life figure who looms large in Kalamazoo lore, this is your book.  After reading A
MICHIGAN MAN, you will wish you had known Al Connable.  For those who did, you will enjoy
a visit with an old pal.  Well done Tom!     -Alice's Archivist

                                        Bookplate inside Alice's copy of A MICHIGAN MAN

      Springtime gathering at Gilmore's Ice Cream Parlor, On the Mall, Kalamazoo, Michigan, c.1963.
                     Left:  Unidentified gentleman;  Middle: "Little Irving";  Right:  Al Connable. 
Keep Scrolling...

~Marcella Faustman
~Spanish Nights
~Designers' Showhouse '82
~Alice and Ola
~Hats Off to Leta Snow

                                  MARCELLA FAUSTMAN:  A Long & Lyrical Life

A young widow sings for patients at a World War II veterans hospital.  She notices a Navy
vet convalescing in the TB unit.  They meet, marry and have a long life together filled with song
and poetry.  As the music swells, they sail off into the sunset...  Turner Classic Movies?  No--
just one theme in the long, lyrical life of Marcella Faustman.

Marcella Faustman, age 104, passed away May 1, 2011.

        Born in Moberly, Missouri in 1907, Marcella's mother, a milliner, introduced her to music at
        age 4, starting her on piano and then violin.  She played piano for elementary school productions
        and began making stage appearances.  That is how it all started...

        With a music degree from Missouri Christian College (now Columbia College), Marcella
        landed a job in the St. Louis Municipal Opera as chorus member and understudy.

        Bitten by the show biz bug, there was no turning back.  Marcella took her talents east to
        New York City and stayed over 20 years.  She earned her Masters Degree at Columbia University,
        sang in various productions, toured, and married a man with a beautiful baritone voice.  She also
        worked as a model and bookkeeper during the Depression.

        After her husband died in 1947, friends persuaded her to join a Red Cross Music Program that
        involved performing for soldiers recovering in the VA hospital on Staten Island.  This brings us
        back to our opening scene...

        Philip Faustman, the Navy vet Marcella had noticed when singing in the TB ward was soon cured.
        They married in 1950.

        The year before, Marcella had been hired by the School of Music at Western Michigan University
        in Kalamazoo to teach voice, vocal literature, history of song, and physiology of the voice.

         Marcella's dedication to her students is legendary.  She could be tough and demanding, when she
         knew a student had potential.   She would expand their horizons in terms of vocal range and choice
         of repertoire.  She championed the inclusion of minority students in the School of Music.  She even
         gave advice to students who were not her own.

         People who knew her enjoy telling Marcella stories.  They loved her forthright manner, her bon 
         mots, and salty language.

         As a mezzo-soprano, Marcella Faustman made frequent appearances as recitalist and soloist during
         her years at Western.  She gave her final performance at age 69, at Miller Auditorium.  She retired
         from WMU in 1977 as Professor Emerita of the School of Music.  She taught privately until her
         90th year.

         From the opera stages of Europe, to teaching studios across the United States, her vocal students
         now have established careers of their own.

         Marcella and Philip Faustman established vocal music and music theatre scholarships at WMU:
         The Marcella S. and Philip F. Faustman Vocal Performance Endowment, and The Musical
         Theatre and Performance Endowment Fund.

         Marcella and Philip were married for 58 years.  Philip died in 2008-- husband, friend, shipmate.
         They had sailed into many a sunset together in their 30 years cruising the Great Lakes in their
         trawler named "Spray"-- a passion they shared... Cue the music...

                                               -Written by Alice's Archivist for Heritage Community of Kalamazoo,
                                                   January 31, 2010, updated May 14, 2011.


Keep scrolling for...
~Spanish Nights
~Designers' Showhouse '82
~Alice and Ola
~Hats Off to Leta Snow!

On January 14, 1964, Alice played the solo piano part to
Nights in the Gardens of Spain, Symphonic Impressions
for Piano and Orchestra, by Manuel de Falla (1876-1946).

The Kalamazoo Symphony was conducted that evening by
Mexican maestro Luis Herrera de la Fuente.  KSO Music
Director Gregory Millar took a seat in the audience that
evening at Central High Auditorium (Chenery).  Six months earlier, Millar had guest conducted the National Symphony of Mexico.

                                                           (click on to enlarge article)

These musical renderings found in Nights of the Gardens of Spain were, in Falla's own words,
written to "evoke the memory of places, sensations and sentiments."  -Excerpted from Kalamazoo
Symphony Program Notes, by Hans Lick (William Burke).

                                                               (click on to enlarge)

The Kalamazoo Symphony employed the writing talents of William (Bill) Burke, of Kalamazoo
College, and later of the Sound Room audio shop in downtown Kalamazoo.  Program notes for
all the works to be performed were published in a 4 1/2" x 6" folio, and mailed out to symphony
subscribers to use as a study guide prior to the concert.

The Kalamazoo Gazette's reviewer R.A. Patton called the performance of Falla's Nights, an
"enthralling interpretation".  -Kalamazoo Gazette, Wednesday, January 15, 1964.  See below...

                                                                   (click on to enlarge)

            A post-concert reception took place at Carver Center.  Alice photographed well in red taffeta!

                Top photo:  Alice and KSO Guest Conductor, Luis Herrera de la Fuente;
                Middle row, left:  Alice with Kalamazoo concert pianist and teacher, Ola Krudener,
                Alice's concerto coach and mentor;  Bottom photo, left:  Alice and KSO Music
                Director, Gregory Millar.
-Designers' Showhouse '82
-Alice & Ola
-Hats Off to Leta Snow

                                Designers' Showhouse '82 Souvenir Program Cover (8 1/2" x 11")
                                Drawing by Terri Maurer of The Oaklands, on the campus of WMU

TERRI MAURER studied fine art at Western Michigan University, and was a 1977 graduate
of Kendall School of Design in Grand Rapids.  She was involved in graphic design at the KIA,
and has also done free-lance commercial work, and stained glass.

fundraising project in 1982.  They teamed up with the FRIENDS OF THE ART CENTER to
present DESIGNERS' SHOWHOUSE '82, featuring the work of 20 area interior and landscape

They were given the opportunity of completely refurbish "THE OAKLANDS", an elegant 23-room
mansion built in 1869 in the Italian Revival Style.  Located on what is now the campus of Western
Michigan University, The Oaklands has served WMU in a number of capacities:  a residence for
several university presidents, a place for visiting dignitaries to stay, a gracious setting for special
occasions, meetings and university functions.

The designers showcased their individual talents in an assigned room or area of the house.  Even a
boutique and a garden shop were set up in the lower level.  Tours, fashion shows, luncheon speakers,
live music, and cooking demonstrations were scheduled during the three-week event.

In addition to the 19 professional design firms, several rooms were designed by WMU's student chapter
of the American Society of Interior Designers.

Executive Staff for Designer's Showhouse '82 were:  Jean Amlicke, Ramona Bernhard, Marge Bitson,
Helen Domeny, Connie Kemp, Marilyn Middleton, Gayle Smythe, Anne van Giessen, Fran Vorys,
and Nancy Wilson.  There was also a Standing Committee of over thirty people, and a large contingent
of volunteers.

Gail Fitzpatrick-Fox, member of the Program Standing Committee, was in charge of the overall design
and layout of this souvenir program.  She also worked closely with the many businesses that placed ads.
Thanks Gail for lending this program to Alice's Archives.  Beautiful work!                  -Alice's Archivist

Designers' Showhouse '82 Logo was by TOM KAYSER.  He created the logo of the three oak leaves
expressly for this souvenir program.  Tom was Director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.

Inside the program were 28 drawings of the Designers' Showhouse rooms, executed by KEN FIRTH.
Ken volunteered his talents for this project and produced the drawings in four weeks.  He studied fine
art at the Cleveland Institute of Art.  His works are in galleries nationwide.  Ken worked in advertising
at Biggs|Gilmore in Kalamazoo, and after retirement returned to his first love-- watercolor.

Designers' Showhouse '82 was a great success as a fundraising project, and was repeated in 1988, 1991,
1992, 1995, and 1999.

In 1983, the Women's Symphony Association changed its name to the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
League (KSOL), and began admitting men as members.


OLA KRUDENER, Pianist, Teacher, Concerto Soloist, Committee Member, Mentor & Friend
       ALICE & OLA, after Alice's performance of Manuel de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain for
       Piano and Orchestra, with the Kalamazoo Symphony, Guest Conductor Luis Herrera de la Fuente,
       January 14, 1964.  This snapshot was taken at a post-concert reception at Carver Center.

OLA KRUDENER (1899-1983) coached Alice for her various solo engagements with the Kalamazoo
Symphony in the 1960s.  Ola was one of those grand old ladies of the piano from an earlier era--
a wonderful person, and a fine musician who had a certain flair about her.  Trained in Boston, Ola
later moved to New York City, where she was an accompanist for singers.  Alice was fortunate to
have Ola Murray Krudener as a mentor and friend during these years.

Ola performed the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Kalamazoo Symphony under unusual
circumstances.  The concert took place on February 19, 1933, during the dark days of the Depression.
The banks were closed for that week.  KSO Founder and Manager LETA SNOW devised a clever plan
to ensure that people were not deterred from attending the upcoming concert due to lack of funds for a
ticket.  Snow had the Kalamazoo Gazette print a coupon in the newspaper, and upon signing it, the
concert-goer could hand it in at the door in lieu of a ticket for the concert.  With this IOU promise, they
could pay later, once the banks had re-opened and they could access their funds.

Leta Snow got the result she was after-- a large crowd at Central High Auditorium to hear Ola play the
Tchaikovsky Concerto.  People's spirits were lifted that February afternoon, and Manager Leta Snow was   able to re-coup the ticket money later.

At the time of her concerto performance, Ola was also serving as President of the Women's Committee.
Leta Snow established the Kalamazoo Symphony Women's Committee in 1930, nine years after starting
the Kalamazoo Symphony itself.  Ola was the second woman to become President, and took the helm in
1932, serving until the end of 1933.

The Women's Committee was an extremely popular group to join, and members were required to show
their cards at the door to ensure a seat in the capacity audience at the Civic Theater.  The Women's
Committee presented a series of music lectures and programs for each season.  They also planned a full schedule of social activities and philanthropic projects throughout the year, in support of the KSO.

Ola Krudener maintained her private piano teaching studio for many years, and taught a generation of
pianists.  Many of her former students now have teaching studios of their own throughout the U.S.

Ola was also on the Kalamazoo Symphony's Conductor Selection Committee when Gregory Millar was
hired in 1961.  The committee traveled to St. Louis and San Francisco to interview conductor candidates.
The person who founded the American Symphony Orchestra League in 1942, was none other than KSO
Founder Leta Snow!

       KALAMAZOO WOMEN'S SYMPHONY ASSOCIATION Ticket Sales Kick-Off  (9/10/64)
       Left to Right:  Alice Mullen, Chair of Ticket Sales; Charlotte Richardson, Ethel Seeley, Leta Snow
                                                                                                  -photo by Bennett, Kalamazoo Gazette 

The 1964 photograph above shows Leta Snow at age 84, involved in one of the Kalamazoo Symphony
Orchestra's most important aspects-- the selling of subscription concerts.  The Kalamazoo Women's 
Symphony Association was in charge of this annual endeavor, and KSO Founder Leta Snow was still
a vital presence at that time.  

Snow herself started the Kalamazoo Women's Symphony Association in 1930 under another name.
The Women's Committee was an extremely popular group to join, and members were required to show
their cards at the door to ensure a seat in the capacity audience at the Civic Theater.  Educational programs, lectures, concerts, and social and philanthropic activities were planned for each season.

Leta Snow (1880-1980), founded the
Kalamazoo Symphony 90 years ago in 1921.

There had been attempts by others to start an
orchestra before and after the turn of the century.
Kalamazoo was a vibrant musical community
already, and symphonic music certainly had its
supporters.  Leta came along at the right time to
re-kindle the idea.

Born in Paw Paw, Leta and Harry M. Snow lived
in the Chicago area during the early years of their
marriage.  Trained as a pianist, Leta loved all the cultural opportunities that came with  living in a large metropolitan area.  

When her husband relocated to Kalamazoo for business reasons, Leta brought with her some of those
big city sensibilities, and a brilliant talent for working with people.

Leta Snow made her vision a reality.  With great effort, enthusiasm, and a few tears, she worked 
tirelessly on behalf of the Kalamazoo Symphony for the rest of her life.  She wore many hats in her
capacity as Manager:  personnel, ticket sales, marketing, fund raising, and dealing with the Board of

Leta got to know the local talent, and retained the services of the gifted conductor, Chester Z. Bronson.
Snow even recruited players away from Chicago.  When they moved to Kalamazoo, Leta found them 
part-time jobs in the off-season.  She rolled out the welcome mat for European musicians who had just
arrived in the United States as refugees, and needed work.  Leta Snow was KSO Manager until her
retirement in 1949.

In 1951, the name Women's Committee was changed to the Women's Symphony Association (WSA).
In 1983, the WSA was changed to the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra League, and began admitting  
men as members.  KSOL Website:

In addition to her founding the Kalamazoo Symphony in 1921, Leta Snow also established the national
American Symphony Orchestra League in 1942.  It is now called the League of American Orchestras.
LAO website: