Rollie and Sharon Preuss: Usher coordinators extraordinaire
October 8, 2018
FUN FACT ABOUT THE 2018 GILMORE KEYBOARD FESTIVAL: more than 160 volunteers served as ushers at 49 venues throughout Kalamazoo and beyond. As one might expect, organizing this army of volunteers is no small task, yet since 1996 it has been done brilliantly for each Festival by the husband and wife duo of Rollie and Sharon Preuss.
“Our first experience with The Gilmore was the 1994 Festival, where we served as volunteer ushers,” Mr. Preuss explained. “We were asked to serve as coordinators for the next Festival, when Judy Sherrod, who had been doing it for years, stepped down.”
Mrs. Preuss points to their joint backgrounds in computer information systems as key factors in their willingness to take on the challenge. “We were both still working full time, but we felt that with our ability to computerize the work and with the Festival being biennial rather than every year, we would be able to provide the type of quality work that The Gilmore was known for.”
Happily, it’s not all work for the Preusses or their team of volunteers. One of the great benefits of being an usher is the chance to enjoy concerts. Mr. Preuss fondly remembers Anderson & Roe from the 2016 Festival; Mrs. Preuss chose Pink Martini from the same year as her highlight. Both agree that the warm, friendly nature of the audience members impresses them year after year.
“We often see one couple who actually moved to Kalamazoo from Long Island because of The Gilmore,” Mrs. Preuss said. “They would travel here again and again then finally just moved because they enjoyed it so much.”
Mr. and Mrs. Preuss also are active members of Zion Lutheran Church, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Recognizing a potential opportunity to connect the church with the community, they were instrumental in establishing a partnership with The Gilmore for the church to sponsor and host “Baby Grands,” one of the Gilmore Family Concerts during the 2018 Festival. An audience of more than 100 people, including many children under the age of 6, enjoyed a delightfully energetic performance by Alpin Hong.
“Rollie and Sharon have gone above and beyond in their service to The Gilmore for more than 25 years,” said Director Pierre van der Westhuizen. “We are all extremely grateful for their hard work, their enthusiasm, and their many contributions to the organization.”