Any news I would have otherwise shared today is greatly overshadowed by the passing of R.D. Musser, Jr., Chairman of the Grand Hotel.
On Saturday, April 13, a statement from the hotel read: It is with great sadness we let you know R.D. Musser, Jr. passed away early this morning. Mr. Musser was highly respected in the hospitality industry and a true icon to everyone who knew him. He became president of the hotel in 1960 and then purchased it with his wife Amelia in 1979. For more than 60 years he operated America’s Summer Place. As we approach the 80th consecutive year of the hotel opening under the stewardship of the same family, it will not be the same without the presence of Mr. Musser who had a ritual of going through each guest room before the hotel opened to make sure it was ready for the season. He will be greatly missed by his loyal staff and guests.
The last time I saw and spoke to Mr. Musser was this past fall on October 27, when Jill and I were at the Grand for its closing day ceremony. After Mr. Musser and his son spoke briefly and rang the bell signaling the close of the season, I happened to be on the front porch when Mr. Musser stepped outside for a few moments. He graciously allowed Jill to snap a photo of him and me together, and that photo becomes even more special to me now.
Our prayers go out to Mr. Musser’s wife, Amelia, their daughter Robin Agnew and her husband Jamie of Ann Arbor, daughter Margaret “Mimi” Cunningham of Mackinac Island, son R. D. Musser III and his wife Marlee Brown of Mackinac Island, and seven grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, April 17 at 10 a.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church in East Lansing, with burial at a later date on Mackinac Island.
In the years to come, I will not only miss seeing him at the hotel, but also watching him on the electric cart he used (due to health issues) to travel back and forth numerous times a day between the hotel, town and his family’s island home. Those trips were never quick because he’d be hailed so many times by friends and hotel guests from past and present. He would always pull over and chat with anyone who called to him.
Mr. Musser’s warmth, hospitality and integrity will be greatly missed in the years ahead, but he leaves the hotel in the very capable hands of his son, Dan, III, who took over the reins of the Grand this past summer. God willing, the Musser legend will continue at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island for many years to come.
In one of hundreds of comments on the Grand Hotel’s web site, a former guest left this poignant comment: “I already knew that in Heaven there would be many mansions. And now I also know it will be filled with red geraniums.”
The Michigan Live web site has a wonderful article about Mr. Musser, including a 2009 video interview. You can access that article here: http://www.mlive.com/business/index.ssf/2013/04/mackinac_islands_grand_hotel_o.html