Susan Cady gazes out her window with a smile. Across from her sits husband Chuck, and between the pair, morning light casts a glow on their coffee table. Susan reaches toward the table and picks up an older Conservancy publication titled Why We Preserve.
Currently, the couple lives in a Traverse City condo Susan affectionately calls the Tree House. High up and surrounded by trees, it feels like a natural oasis. “We’ve been here in Traverse City for the past 9 or 10 years, but we had lived in Leelanau for 40 years before this,” said Chuck. It was 1974 when they moved to Suttons Bay and built a home. Susan and Chuck both grew up in Grand Rapids with fond memories of northern Michigan and Leelanau County. They were living in Ann Arbor when a trip visiting friends near Sleeping Bear turned into finding a lot for purchase in Suttons Bay Township. “We were always attracted to the coastal side of the state, less population, and so forth.” Making Leelanau their home was a dream come true.
Susan took a job teaching elementary students at Suttons Bay Schools, and Chuck worked from home and traveled, “This was before telecommuting was what it is today, too,” Susan said. Having their home in Leelanau, coming home from a trip often felt more like going on vacation rather than returning.
A big draw for moving to the county was the privacy and beauty of nature. The Cadys also soon found themselves charmed by the community. “We’ve come to appreciate the number of nature lovers that live here,” Chuck said. “Many of them are big supporters of the Conservancy.” Two of those nature lovers happened to be a couple living in Northport named John and Gina Erb.
Susan flips open Why We Preserve. “Chuck and I were both very busy working. We were aware of the Conservancy, but when we met John and Gina Erb we were convinced to join this first class organization,” Susan said. “So we joined as Sustainers about eight years ago. I credit the Erbs with getting us involved in the Sustainers Circle, and eventually as Heritage Society Members.”
The Richard O. Ristine Heritage Society began as a way for folks passionate about Leelanau to leave a legacy that will impact generations to come. Named after a former board member and chair, Richard “Dick” Ristine was a champion for the Conservancy. His knack for relationship building lent itself well to donor relations and mentorship among other board and staff. His warmth was a catalyst for many to get involved with the Conservancy, whether through volunteering or donorship. Dick was influential in the Heritage Society’s development, and before his passing in 2009, the planned giving program was named in his honor.
When Chuck and Susan were planning their estate, they said that including the Conservancy wasn’t a difficult decision. “When I think of places I want to leave a footprint in the sand, it’s the places that have affected us most, meant the most to us,” said Chuck. “And not just me and Susan, but our kids and grandchildren.”
They have two daughters and four grandchildren that have their own fond memories of Leelanau. The Cadys have a busy summer ahead enjoying the Conservancy trails with family and friends. Knowing that they’ve passed their love for this corner of the world down their family tree has given them further comfort in becoming Heritage Society members. “We know we’re in good hands with the Conservancy. Their perseverance in completing projects, stability, care for members, and dedication to preservation is admirable,” said Susan. “We wanted to invest in our memories here so our kids and grandchildren can keep making more for years to come.” To learn more about planned giving and the Heritage Society, contact Major Gifts Officer Stacie Longwell Sadowski at [email protected].