Mackinac Loses an Island Icon 4/14/2013

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.

grand6

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

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13 thoughts on “Mackinac Loses an Island Icon 4/14/2013

  1. Hi Bree – I saw this sad news yesterday too. My parents were heartbroken to hear of it. So many memories and such a history. I remember him as always kind to a shy kid. I saw a comment on the Grand Hotel facebook page that I thought was special – “I am sure your room was ready for you, Mr. Musser. It is time to enjoy now.”

  2. I agree with the comment about Red Geraniums in his mansion in heaven. I hope he gets one with a good library, too. I’ll miss him and encountering him almost every time we went to town. Truly an island legend.

  3. Very sad news! I saw him in his electric cart many times during my visits to Island. My prayers and thoughts go out to his Family, friends and employees who will truly miss him.

  4. LOVE the comment about the mansion and the red geraniums…R.I.P. Mr. Musser, although I never met you, I did meet your son Dan III who carries on the remarkable tradition of the Musser legacy.

  5. I will always remember him seated at the very corner table in the Grand dining room eating breakfast and reading the newspaper. He was there each time we stayed. He will be greatly missed.

  6. Brenda,

    I never knew Mr. Musser, but my thoughts and prayers are for his family and friends, and may the good memories linger with them in the days and years ahead.

  7. So sorry to hear of Mr. Musser’s passing. I remember seeing him also downtown with his electric cart on our visits to the island. Sympathies go out to his family and many island friends.

  8. Oh wow!……very sad indeed. I always wondered who that was on the electric cart. I recall my wife waving to him and he very politely waved back to her as I was getting us ice cream. I asked who is that? She shrugged I dunno…..a nice guy whizzing by on an electric scooter thingy. We never knew just how important he was on the island. Rest in Peace sir.

  9. Heard the news yesterday as well….very sad, but how blessed M.I. was to have him and the traditions he has left will go on forever.

  10. Such sad news for the family. Mr Musser seemed like a very busy gentleman while on earth so I hope he is getting a chance to sit in a white rocking chair in heaven under a big long white porch with the ceiling painted blue. May God be with the family during their time of grief.

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