David Macqueen ’75 was recently honored with the 1844 Award during the College’s virtual Homecoming celebration. Established in 1977, the 1844 Award, named for the year of Olivet’s founding, recognizes an individual for their commitment and dedication to the advancement of the College through community service, professional recognition and contributions to society that personify the mission of Olivet.
Dave’s career led him to serve as a band director for more than 30 years, sharing his passion for music with high school students and many others. Since 2010, Dave has been a dedicated volunteer with the Olivet College Marching Comets, and he is also a proud Comet parent to his daughter, Helen Macqueen ’14. Today, Dave directs the Thornapple Wind Band and is still actively involved in his community. Regardless of his role or location, it is evident that a strong love for both music and Olivet College run through Dave’s veins.
While Dave’s success with instrumental music may lead you to believe it was his plan all along, that’s not exactly the case. He jokes that he attempted to play the trombone for two months in middle school, only to declare himself lousy and take up choir instead.
“I decided to quit the band, but I still liked music, so I joined the choir,” Dave explained. “I really enjoyed that, and I even did solo work at the state level through high school. When I came to Olivet, I was never an instrumental major, but I was the band manager from my sophomore to senior year. I loved tinkering with instruments and setting them up. For me, it was the best part of the job when others probably thought it was the worst. I also grew close with then OC band director David McCoy — he became a second father to me and had a profound impact on my life. It was through all this that I realized I wanted to be a band director. I probably wouldn’t have been given that opportunity at any other school.”
Dave retired from band directing full-time in 2005 after serving at Lakewood High School for a number of years. Many of his students went on to study at Olivet College, and he is proud to have watched them prosper on that path. In 2010, Dave’s own daughter, Helen, followed in his footsteps to attend OC, which helped redefine Dave’s purpose as an alumnus.
“When my daughter decided to be another Olivetian, I started hanging around concerts and events,” Dave said. “It was then that I met Jeremy Duby, OC’s current director of bands, who re-established the marching band. I couldn’t wait to help. With his knowledge of bands and music, it was a quick match between the two of us. I enjoy providing advice and I know that Jeremy listens, whether he takes my advice or not. I try to act as the ‘old guy’ having seen some things in my lifetime. Here I am years later, still volunteering, and I plan to volunteer as long as I can. I love the College — it’s a pure joy in my life.”
Dave is proud to be a member of the Olivet College community and even more so to share a special bond with his daughter as alumni. He has a goal to continue living the College mission in all he does and sharing the Olivetian values with those he meets.
“Alumni have a responsibility to the school — not a monetary responsibility but a responsibility to just keep sharing their experiences with those who they are around, especially young people,” Dave said. “It’s hard to focus on the College when you’re getting your life, career and family started, but Olivet gave you something special and we need to give back. Returning to campus for Homecoming isn’t enough, but it’s a start. Stay in touch with your college and communicate how you can help. Mentorship and working with individual departments are just a few of the ways you can make a difference.”
This year, Asenath Andrews ’73, Alan Nagy ’68 and Dr. John DeGarmo ’93 were also honored as Distinguished Alumni Award recipients. In addition, Christine Pedder ’11 earned the Young Alumni Award.
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