Alumni Giving Fall 2017

A love of music and a passion for caring

Mary Fry, ’75

Interviewed by Amy Bross, ’00

What makes Grand Valley different/unique?

It was small enough to form relationships that made me feel at home while exploring more of the world and myself, and large enough to bring the outside world to me. Grand Valley fit what I was looking for perfectly.

How did you get involved with the choir at Grand Valley?

My mom was a piano major at Michigan State University and taught piano at home. The story is that I used to sit under the piano, listening, when she was teaching. I learned to read music before words. In high school I studied voice with Beverly Howerton, then director of Fountain Street Church Choir, so choir singing was natural.

What motivated you to give to the Eitzen Voice Scholarship?

Leslie Eitzen was a role model and a strong, kind, passionate woman who believed in my ability to succeed in the world. She became a life-long friend. Shortly after joining the music faculty, she gave a recital to the music students and faculty. In the midst of singing a lovely art song, a fly landed on her nose, and decided to make his home there. She continued seriously singing for several seconds before bursting into a huge laugh, which brought down the house.

About Mary Fry

OCCUPATION: Primary care physician, specializing in internal medicine, geriatrics, and addiction awareness

HOBBIES: Running, biking, swimming

SERVICE: Member of Chicago Chamber Choir


What is your favorite Grand Valley memory?

Leslie Eitzen taught music my senior year. In my first lesson she asked why I was taking such a deep breath before singing a short phrase. I was working too hard. She told me to relax. I always remember now to relax.

Why did you want to become a physician?

I have always been attracted to medicine and I caught the wave of women becoming professionals.

What is your favorite book?

I’d like to say something profound but it’s James Clavell’s Shogun. I like stories. I re-read it until the covers fell off. More recently, A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. I listened to it on Audiobook while driving to work. Right now I’m listening to Patrick Taylor’s, An Irish Country Doctor, sort of Dr. Kildare meets rural Ireland.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

I laugh so hard when my husband is being silly.

Would you encourage other alumni to give back to what they are passionate about?

Absolutely. College is a time for learning about who you are, as well as learning about the world. The relationships formed during that time can shape the rest of your life. From my vantage point as a 60-something, helping others to learn and carry on the ideas and skills I’ve learned becomes more pressing. We won’t live forever. Help those coming behind you.


woman standing in hospital

What impact do you hope your gifts will have on students?

Studying the arts has a special impact on us. As we progressively study and approach an ideal we learn to monitor ourselves, to see what works and what doesn’t, and to bring forth depths we didn’t know we had. I hope my contributions will help others to carry that on.

Why was expanding the Performing Arts Center important?

Learning performing arts requires performing, bringing to life the skills you are learning and sharing them with others. Having facilities that attract the public’s interest and attendance, and support the efforts the students are making, helps keep that alive.

What is your “Laker Effect”?

I’ve been able to help my family and my patients through my passion for caring — sometimes curing, sometimes comforting. And as a singer with Chicago Chamber Choir, I’ve helped bring my love of music to a wider audience.

Find a Scholarship

Scholarships like the Eitzen Voice Scholarship are available for many different areas of study. Learn more about how to find a scholarship you might be interested in giving to online at

Page last modified October 27, 2017