Greetings from Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park holds a very special place in my heart. In the mid-1960’s, between my Jr. and Sr. years in college, I volunteered with the National Council of Churches Ministries in the National Parks as a religious service music coordinator and was assigned to Many Glacier Hotel in Montana. Music was a major part of my life and I had access to solo and choir music, which I brought with me to the Park. Throughout the summer I arranged for other students, as well as myself, to provide music for the non-denominational church services held at the hotel on Sunday mornings.

My summer at Many Glacier changed my life in many ways. I encountered a grizzly bear on a hike to the glacier, I preached my one and only sermon when the seminarian preacher became sick, and I met my husband-to-be on the mountain trail hiking over the Continental Divide. But one of my favorite memories is the following:

Many Glacier’s Manager at the time was Ian B. Tippet (a Glacier Park legend!). He was a strong supporter of music in the hotel, encouraging the students/staff to provide entertainment in the evenings, not only the combo that played in the downstairs lounge but for nightly gatherings in the main lobby. During that summer one of the other students – Bill –(wish I could remember his last name) and I conspired to put together an ‘act’ for one of these events,. We found ourselves a pianist, and even some appropriate costumes. Most of the music at these events was refined, often classical, making for a pleasant evening. Bill and I had other plans, though this was not relayed to Mr. Tippet prior to our presentation. The lobby had been quite full but we asked to be the last ‘act’ so many guests had started upstairs to their rooms when our pianist started a very virtuosic classical introduction. Then I (in Victorian dress) came out, stopped her and started the rather demure beginning of Irving Berlin’s “Play a Simple Melody” to which Bill (in straw hat, vest and swagger) stormed in, slammed the piano and launched into the jazzy ”rag” counterpoint. Not only did Mr. Tippet’s jaw drop as we continued the song and dance duet but the folks who had started back upstairs to their rooms, yawning, came back out onto the balconies and rewarded us with rousing applause. Mr. Tippet took note. From that night til the end of the summer Bill and I were ‘booked’ to perform at several of the conventions and events.

In 2011, I was privileged to get back to Glacier Park. I was distressed at how much the glaciers had receded but was completely surprised to find Mr. Tippet still working in the Park. I had a lovely visit with him at his own cottage on the grounds of East Glacier Lodge.

[When I started writing this remembrance I assumed but had no knowledge, that Mr. Tippet had died. To find out that his death was so recent (Mar 2020) surprised me. Something must have brought this memory to life.]


Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park preserves more than a million acres of forests, alpine meadows and lakes with habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal life.

State(s): Montana

Established: 1910

“I believe that nothing can compare to the beauty, majesty, inspiration, and sense of wonder that our Parks offer to all who will avail themselves of their existence. This must be preserved for our children and future generations. Frank Lloyd Wright said "If you ignore beauty, you will find yourself without it... But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life."”

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