Charles Sink

Charles A. Sink was an outstanding leader in our community, state and in his profession.

He was one of the founders of Ann Arbor Rotary and was its second president during 1917-18.  He was also one of the twelve founders of the Acacia Fraternity in 1904 and of the National Association of Concert Managers in 1948 where he was the second president, following Patrick Hayes who was the great impresario of Washington DC and my mentor.

He wore many hats during his 92 years – educator, politician, civic leader, husband…and, where I believe he left his biggest mark, he served the University Musical Society as business manager and president between 1904 and 1968, a remarkable 64-year tenure.

·      *As educator, Charlie served as president of the University School of Music from 1927-40, now the distinguished School of Music, Theater and Dance.

·      *As a Republican politician, he served in both the state House and Senate between 1919 and 1930 and ran for Lt. Governor in 1932.

·      *As a civic volunteer, he served as

1.     Chairman of the Michigan State Historical Commission

2.     Member of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission and the George Washington Bicentennial Commission

·      He assumed his role as husband when he married Alva Joanna Gordon in Ann Arbor on June of 1928.  Their home on Olivia Street welcomed hundreds of guest artists for post-concert receptions and dinners over the years – never with alcohol – and was the place where the great cellist Gregor Piatigorsky married Jacqueline de Rothschild, heir to the Rothschild fortune, in January 1937.  Alva Gordon Sink was a remarkable hostess and story teller who died in1998 at 102 years, 26 years after her husband passed away.  One of the University’s Alumnae Associations bears her name and celebrated its 50 anniversary two years ago.

·      As head of UMS, Charlie Sink was the Fielding Yost of the Arts.  It was Charlie Sink who advised the University that Hill Auditorium should be large enough to hold the entire student body and have such stellar acoustics that the university president could stand at the center of the stage and be heard unamplified throughout the house.  Next year Hill Auditorium celebrates its 100th anniversary, and we’ll  be thanking Charlie Sink for his extraordinary vision about its size and acoustics.  It was Charlie Sink who put UMS on the international cultural map with his presentations of the great orchestras and recitalists.  The May Festival became THE social event of the community under his tenure, and it was Charlie Sink who began the historic 49-year May Festival relationship with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra.  It was Charlie Sink who convinced the great Enrico Caruso to give a recital in Hill Auditorium in March of 1919.  Able to convince the greatest singer in the world to come to Ann Arbor and creative enough to find the financial means to support Caruso’s huge fee, Charlie Sink set the standard that if the great artist is out there, go get ‘im and bring ‘im to Ann Arbor.   So what if we’re a small Midwest town – we’ve got the facilities, the audience, and the will to make it happen.  That’s why Charlie Sink’s photo hangs in our Burton Tower offices – as a constant reminder to our entire staff that nothing should stop UMS from bringing the greatest artists in the world to the people of Ann Arbor.  I had the honor of meeting Charles Sink and being a guest in his home in 1968 when I was a U-M graduate student and my wife Penny was secretary to Charlie Sink’s successor at UMS, Gail W. Rector, also a former Ann Arbor Rotary Club president. (Remarks by Ken Fischer, March 28, 2012)