He was a tenor. She was an alto. The two met and began dating as members of the Battle Creek Community Chorus, united by song. This year, Bob and Nan Windsor celebrated their 50th anniversary by taking a cruise from Alaska to Tokyo that included Siberia.
They also recalled following the journey of The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival over the decades of their marriage.
“I’ve always had a role in the musical arts,” Bob Windsor says. “I’ve been involved with The Gilmore since the early 1990s, when the first Festival took place and presented concerts in Battle Creek.”
“From the top,” Nan adds, smiling. She grew up in Indiana and came to Battle Creek as a new teacher. Once she met Bob, she decided to stay and make a life there. Music, she says, was their mutual interest.
“When Bob came home one day telling me about a big music festival coming to Battle Creek, I didn’t realize how big—or that it would become a part of our lives ever since,” she says.
A few years after the first Gilmore Festival, Bob Windsor was invited to join the organization’s Board.
“By then, I loved The Gilmore!” he says. “I was delighted they would consider me. That first Board meeting in 1999 was amazing—we voted to hire Dan Gustin as director. A great move.”
Windsor sat on two Gilmore committees, participating in performance selection and doing his part to help mold the fast-growing organization. The couple also organized volunteers to help with the concerts in Battle Creek, and served as hosts for The Gilmore’s Elderhostel participants during three of the Festivals.
“I’m pretty sure we also bought more concert tickets than anyone,” Nan Windsor says. “Hundreds of tickets—for ourselves, for our friends. We would attend three concerts a day during the Festival, planning our day around them, and we were able to attend master classes and pre-concert talks.”
Bob Windsor adds: “The performance level is always so high. We are profoundly grateful for the spectacular events The Gilmore provides.”
So closely involved with The Gilmore, Bob Windsor says it didn’t take long for him to understand the importance of financial support to sustaining such an organization.
“Right from the get-go, we decided to include The Gilmore in our trust as a beneficiary,” Windsor says. “And we’ve never failed to contribute in annual fundraising. We want to see The Gilmore continue to grow. Because of that growth, they’ve been able to bring tremendous exposure to new artists and more obscure works.”
“The Gilmore has been a blessing in our lives,” Nan Windsor says. “It would be hard to pick a favorite event, but there was certainly a memorable one …” She taps a finger on a pile of coasters on the table. Each one sports the image of a wet rat beneath a large umbrella and the title “Founding Member – Gilmore Drowned Rat Society, August 2007.”
“These are mementos from a trip to Chicago,” she says. “We’ve been able to go on several trips with The Gilmore to hear special concerts. This particular excursion was to hear Gilmore Artist Ingrid Fliter with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Millennium Park – an outdoor venue. As the symphony began to play, the sky just opened up and it started to pour.”
Out came the umbrellas, and the audience listened in drenched bliss. What’s a little rain, the Windsors agree. They’ve been with The Gilmore from the beginning, and they are here to stay —as patrons, volunteers and donors— rain or shine.