For Ruth Gerrard Cole, family roots at Chautauqua run almost as deep as the Institution’s history.
As a former member of the United States Foreign Service, the former owner of an antique business, the current owner of Hopper Historics, and president of the Manuscript Society, Bob Hopper may be a jack-of-all-trades, but he wouldn’t exchange anything for his summers at Chautauqua Institution.
Last Saturday, the Athenaeum Hotel parlor flooded with morning light and filled with people as about 150 volunteers and campaign leaders gathered for the Chautauqua Fund’s Kick-Off Celebration.
Since John and Linda Wadsworth were married in 1987, they have been coming to Chautauqua and immersing themselves in the community — particularly the performing arts.
Husband and wife Richard and Mary Lou Parlato believe that Chautauqua Institution honors the history and traditions upon which the United States was originally founded in a way completely unlike any other place.
Though Jay and Joyce Nesbit had known of Chautauqua for quite a while through some of Jay’s friends, the couple didn’t travel to the Institution from their home in Cleveland until 2004. But when they did, they fell in love with the place.
Karen and Jim Dakin are gardeners. Because the husband and wife self-tend their personal Eden of daylilies, hostas, roses, irises, peonies and daisies, they understand the huge commitment of time, love and resources that goes into maintaining a unique and beautiful ecosystem.
When Susan B. Scott leaves Clearwater, Fla., and heads to Chautauqua Institution for the summer, her grandchildren affectionately say, “Grandma’s going off to camp!” And to hear Scott speak with excitement about the activities she’s involved with on the grounds, the comparison makes sense.
Ben Sorensen is a man of service. Whether it’s service to Chautauqua Institution, to America, to God or to his family, he believes he has an obligation to put his time and talents to good use.
“I don’t sleep a whole lot,” Sorensen said. “I love that I have a chance to be in the world, to live in it and make a difference.”
And he tries to maximize the difference he makes by focusing on several areas of expertise.
Like so many vacationers, John Jureller and Mary Giegengack Jureller expected their trip in the summer of 1992 to result in relaxation, with entertainment and quaint sights and, maybe, if they were lucky enough to stumble upon a decent place, church on Sunday morning. But the Jurellers were going to Chautauqua.
“You can’t often find a vacation place where you can expect to have your spiritual life nourished and expanded. Mostly you go searching about for a church that’s tolerable,” Mary said. “We found the Sunday morning ecumenical service here just wonderfully enriching.”
Since finding Chautauqua much better than “tolerable” — both spiritually and in other regards — the Jurellers of Syracuse, N.Y., have returned for another 20 seasons.