Late Washington Post journalist's family will donate book proceeds to Beaver Island health care center
David Broder and Ann Collar Broder sit on a Beaver Island beach in an undated photo. (Courtesy photo/Broder family / March 19, 2013)
The girl, Marg Hoffman, suffered so badly in Illinois where the family lived that they searched continually farther north until they found a place where she was comfortable.
Now, generations of the family have come to the island, including David S. Broder, a Pulitzer-prize winning Washington Post reporter and columnist. He first started traveling to the island in 1949, with the woman who became his wife, Ann Collar, niece of the girl whose allergies brought the family to the island. They spent their honeymoon there, then most summers after. Many columns published in the Washington Post had their roots in situations Broder saw on the island.
After Broder’s death in 2011, his family wanted a way to give back to the island. So they collected his Beaver Island columns into one volume and self-published the book. Now, the family hopes to sell the book and donate all proceeds to the Beaver Island Rural Health Center.
“What’s nice about the health center is it serves everyone, regardless of whether you’re summer people or year-round people,” said Matt Broder, son of David Broder. “It’s a true community institution in every sense for Beaver Island.”
Community was at the heart of many of David’s columns. The book’s opening piece, written in 1970, meditates on Beaver Island’s school, which at that time was run with a mix of public and private support. Same went for the historical museum, a “new medical center” and dock, wrote David.
“Beaver Island displays, in microcosm, the qualities America must somehow recover if it is to survive as a nation,” reads the column. “In the past two weeks, this reporter has heard three intelligent and deeply concerned men. ... All of them were saying the same thing: That America must rediscover its sense of community or fall victim to its internal divisions.”
Through the decades and now, the island has occupied a special spot in the Broder family, who lived in Arlington, Va.
“The ritual was, school would end, and Mom would have done all the preparation,” said Matt, who now lives in Hamden, Conn. “She and sometimes my dad and the four boys would pile into a beat-up Volkswagen minivan. ... The first day, you drive from Arlington to Toledo and stay overnight in the same Holiday Inn. The next day, you drive from Toledo to Charlevoix and you’re on the afternoon boat.”
Of the 4,000 columns David wrote, 33 center around Beaver Island, said the family in a forward of the book. Those 33 columns, the first of which is dated September 1970 and last February 2010, contain issues familiar to readers in Northern Michigan: water levels, land use issues, economic recession and community.
In a way, said Matt, the book is a community-sourced project. The book contains those 33 columns, but is also decorated with photos of the island past and present.
“When we started, the only thing we had access to were my dad’s columns and we had really no idea how it was going to be illustrated,” said Matt. “We put the word out to the Beaver Island community that we would love to have photographs from the community. ... The response was just overwhelming. The fact that the book looks as beautiful as it does is completely because of this island community.”
According to a news release from the family, the book is a limited-edition volume and is being sold by the health center on a first-come, first-serve basis. Fewer than 300 copies remain from the original print run. Interested buyers should contact Donna Kubic by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (231) 448-2275.
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