Volunteer spotlight: Linnie Cross

No matter the assignment, Linnie Cross is always one of the first to volunteer.

Cross has been volunteering at Interlochen for the past 20 years. Starting in the costume shop in 1997, Cross now volunteers in dozens of capacities across campus, earning her two consecutive Volunteer of the Year awards.

Although Cross attended a college conservatory and annually vacationed on Lake Leelanau, she didn’t hear about Interlochen until the 1970s. Cross was introduced to Interlochen by one of her colleagues at a church in Sterling Heights, Michigan, where she worked as a church organist. The church’s choir director, who also headed the All-State vocal program, suggested that Cross visit the campus on her next vacation to Lake Leelanau.

“I loved it,” Cross said. “I loved the whole atmosphere here.”

In the 1980s, two of Cross’s daughters, Kim and Carmen, attended Interlochen -- Kim as a pianist, and Carmen as a trumpeter. Cross and her late husband, Robert, also began considering where they would spend their retirement.

“We knew from early on that the Traverse City area was where we wanted to locate for retirement,” Cross said. “We liked to fish, we liked to boat, we liked the outdoors, we liked winter. We wanted to position ourselves near Interlochen, not Traverse City, because we were not city people. We were country people: farm kids.”

In 1988, the couple purchased a home near the town of Interlochen, to which they moved upon their retirement in 1997.

In June of 1997, Cross began volunteering in the costume shop at Interlochen. “We were still over in the Phoenix Garage,” Cross recalled.

As the years passed, Cross continued to become more involved at Interlochen: she has ushered at concerts, decorated campus for the holidays and served breakfast at Lochaven Cafeteria. Today, she volunteers in the costume shop two to three days per week. She also works two four-hour shifts at the front desk of the Dennison Center each week. In the summer, Cross spends her Sunday mornings welcoming visitors to campus at the Information Booth. This summer, for the first time, Cross is also trying her hand at directing traffic at Interlochen Arts Festival concerts.

Cross also plays a vital role in keeping a campus tradition alive. “I volunteer a lot at the uniform building,” she said. “I fix the zippers on the knickers.”

Cross also spent her winter sewing dozens of curtains for camper and staff cabins. “I can’t tell you how many I made -- at least 200,” she said. “I passed by the boys’ infirmary today, and I thought, ‘that looks like the backside of some curtains I made!’”

When she isn’t at Interlochen -- which she herself admits is not very often -- Cross spends most of her time outdoors, mowing her lawn and tending to her large garden. She is also an avid Detroit sports fan, and often spends her evenings watching Pistons and Lions games. Cross also enjoys playing games of mahjong, euchre and pinochle with her friends, many of whom she met at Interlochen.

“Interlochen is a very important part of my life, because I am able to meet with my peers here,” she said. “ I love the vibrancy of youth and the wonderful talent here.”