Meet the Directors
My life's story added a new chapter when I started playing bridge in 2011.
I took a beginner's lesson during that summer at Bayview. Even though I was warned that playing at the PBC could be very intimidating for a new player I talked a friend into trying it with me. It was a bit scary but we survived it, even though we were dismayed to discover that we couldn't use our Audrey Grant bidding guidebooks.
By the summer of 2013 I was definitely hooked and so were a number of my Birchwood bridge buddies. There was interest in starting a sanctioned game at Birchwood so I asked Mike Sears to recommend a director for us. Much to my surprise he said he could teach me what I needed to know to pass the director's test. Long story short, and a big thanks to Mike, our first sanctioned game was held in October of last year.
Soon thereafter Larry and Pam asked me to direct the new Monday game. As a rookie, I was reluctant to do so even though I felt an obligation to repay Mike and the club for helping me become a director. They left me no alternative when they said that Pam would play on Mondays and be there to assist me if I ran into any problems. So the PBC has turned out to be a great gift.
I really enjoy the camaraderie that I share with the other directors and my fellow competitors. The founders and contributors created a marvelous facility and I feel lucky to have returned to northern Michigan at just the right time.
I grew up in Big Rapids, MI, got my degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL, joined Ernst & Ernst in Orlando and became a CPA. Shortly thereafter I transferred to their Tampa office and remained in Tampa until 2007.
I returned to Michigan for many reasons, missing the 4 seasons being one of them. I chose Birchwood after renting there for 6 summers and finding that I loved the golf courses and members.
Mark is a Michigander through and through. He was born and raised in Detroit and went to Michigan State, graduating in 1970 with a degree in mathematics. He married that year and he and wife, Rita, have twin girls and a son.
He went to work in the state legislature, becoming chief of staff for the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee. That encouraged an interest in law, which he pursued by getting his law degree from Thomas Cooley in Lansing in 1984. After graduation he signed on with the Dana Corporation, an automotive parts supplier, working in areas such as making sure their plants were in compliance with Federal laws and state regulations and managing cleanups when they happened.
Mark had played bridge in his mid-20's -- "never anything but duplicate," he said. His textbook, as for many of us, was Charles Goren's "Contract Bridge Complete."
But he was so busy with law school and his family that he took a long break from play. His work kept him in Lansing, then Toledo and two years in Houston before retirement. Rita's family had come to northwestern Michigan many years ago, and Mark and Rita bought a lot near Norwood and built a home for their retirement in 2000. Eight years later they made it their permanent home.
Mark had amassed about 20 masterpoints before taking his long break from play. Mike Sears lured him back, inviting him to the club on the day it opened. Mark planned to kibbitz but got talked into playing. He's been at it ever since, and is now a life master.
He has been directing Sunday games since 2010, when he signed on as a volunteer. "When I enjoy something as much as I do this club, I want to give something back," he explained.
He has enjoyed the experience, he said, but the role can sometimes be challenging. "A director has to deal with personalities and often with strong views," he noted. "Sometimes the players don't agree with each other -- or with me."
I grew up in Washington DC in a family that loved card games. I was dragged to the bridge table in my early teens and thought it was a blast to steal tricks from my parents and siblings. One of my wife Lynn’s attractions when we met in college was her bridge skill, but parenthood (three sons and one daughter) and daily journalism’s demands kept us from any regular play.
For a while when I was copy editing at the New York Times, I was entrusted with the three-time-a-week column by Alan Truscott. He was a lovely man and, after the second time I pointed out an analysis error in a column, he invited me to play with him. One my great regrets is that I didn’t take him up on the offer.
Occasional social bridge and reading The Bridge World was the extent of my play until I met Lynne Parker in 2012 and, after an evening of Chicago at her house, she suggested we play at the club. To our surprise, we won and I was hooked. A whole new world of “real” bridge opened up to me just as I was wondering how to make retirement life more exciting.
I now play two or three times a week either at the club in the summer months or at a couple of clubs in and around Bradenton FL, our winter home. .
I was greatly flattered when Larry asked me to take the director training in 2016 and, apart from arguing with the dealing machine and the intricacies of Howell movements, the Sunday directing has been a nice experience. The most important aspect of the director status is that I get to write frequent emails to the nice people at ACBL who advise on rulings. It turns out that a lot of the complicated situations come down to ethical judgments, one of the most fascinating aspects of our endlessly fascinating game.
Dale, who was born in Detroit and raised in Dearborn, earned his master's degree in chemistry from Wayne State University in 1961 and went to work for General Motors as a materials engineer. It was a good choice of a lifetime career; he retired in 1997 still doing materials research, for Delco Electronics. He and his wife, Grace, have two daughters and two sons. The family had a summer cottage in Indian River and expanded it to be a permanent home after he retired. His love of bridge began in college in 1958 when he used to watch others play over lunch. "I sort of picked it up," he said. He began duplicate play five years later, when he was working in Midland "and I got a couple of masterpoints." He was running a game in Indian River and contacted Mike Sears about the possibility of directing at PBC. He took Mike's course in 2012 and has been at it ever since. It is the grey areas of the rules that cause him the worst headaches. "Some of the arbitrary calls are nightmares for me," he said. "How do you apply a rule after a misinterpretation of a call has been alerted? Opponents always say they would have done this or that. Being fair with a ruling is the goal, but it can be hard to achieve."
Allison started playing duplicate bridge while living in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but her first playing experiences go back to third grade when she attended the elementary school where her mother was teaching. Allison’s lunch period coincided with that of her mother and two other bridge-playing teachers, so they called upon her to become their fourth at the lunchtime game. Through the years, she played social bridge occasionally and haphazardly, always enjoying the game and the company; however, it wasn’t until retiring from education that she was introduced to duplicate bridge.
While teaching high school English, Allison also helped develop the State of Illinois writing assessment program and worked with the University of Illinois to reconfigure the high school-middle school student teaching program. Once her children left home to attend college, she became a high school principal and subsequently a district superintendent. Upon retiring, she and her husband, Alan, moved south to establish Lightwood Mountain Pottery. It was there that she joined a small group of friends to help establish a once-weekly game of duplicate bridge.
Word spread that a game was being played in a small town halfway between Boone and Asheville, NC, and the group grew. ACBL-sanctioned games require a director, and Allison volunteered to help facilitate the games. So, after moving to Petoskey, when Larry Willis asked if she might consider becoming a director, he was delighted to learn that she had already been directing games for quite some time.
“I’m happy to contribute,” she says with a smile. “Bridge is an amazing game. Not only does it provide a mental challenge, more importantly, it provides the opportunity for us to reach out to each other, form new friendships and share new experiences. We’re fortunate to have such a beautiful club and a great group of people who enjoy the game and each other.”
Larry hails from Jolly Ol’ England. While in college (Bachelors in Mathematics, Masters in Statistics) he started playing bridge. After learning the British bidding system called ACOL he had to rapidly switch to Standard American when he moved to the United States in 1976. In September that year he located in Petoskey and must love it because he is still here.
When Larry met his soulmate, Robyn, in 2005 he had just 15 masterpoints. He explained duplicate bridge to her and told her he could not possibly live long enough to become a Life Master. That was because there was just one game a week in the area. Then two years later Mike & Pam created the Petoskey Bridge Club and a whole new world opened up. Larry became a Life Master in 2008.
Through the generosity of Jean & Shirley Carpenter (plus 80+ other players) the Petoskey Bridge Club opened in our wonderful building in September 2009. At that time the club became a corporation and Larry was an inaugural board member then took over the presidency from Mike when he and Debbie wanted to spend more time with their children and grandchildren.
When Pam & Mike needed a third director they asked Larry who nervously agreed. Like many other directors he found directing can be quite challenging, but he really enjoys directing the Sunday Swiss games.
Pam grew up in a bridge-playing family in Ann Arbor. Her mother was widely-known as a terrific player, and fostered the "bug" with both Pam and her brother Wilbur, both of whom have also become terrific players.
When Pam and her husband Zeke moved to Petoskey, the only bridge game in town was run by Carol Bertschinger. Two games a week (one in the evening) were held at Carol's house where she and her husband kept the northern Michigan duplicate bridge game alive. Four other ladies also moved into the area at about the same time, all of them looking for additional bridge-playing opportunities. The solution, of course, was to start an additional sanctioned game. Pam and Mike Sears were drafted by the group to do so. In the Spring of 2007, Pam and Mike became certified directors and opened the Petoskey Bridge Club which they ran until Fall 2009. It was then that the current non-profit corporation was formed to take over the club. Pam has continued her leadership of duplicate bridge in the area as a board member of the corporation, as the board's long-standing vice-president, and as an active volunteer in promoting the game. She's been a driving force behind the club's current Hearts-Diamonds games and Future Life Master games.
Nancy Colbert: 231.330.1600
Jonathan Friendly: 231.547.0213
Mark Hess: 832.326.1243
Dale Thayer: 231.238.8001
Allison White: 828.467.3023
Larry Willis: 231.838.4233
Club House: 231.622.8001