Leelanau School Alumni Profile Leigh Willmore
Leelanau School Class of 1965
Years at the Leelanau School: 2
Wayne State University
How I Remember the Leelanau School
When I arrived on the campus of Leelanau in the fall of 1961 as a freshman, I don’t think I said to myself how gorgeous everything was. Nor did I probably remark how attentive the teachers were. But I do remember being happy almost from the first day. And then, feeling challenged, feeling accepted, and something within myself arose and I knew that this was not just a boarding school, no, this was something quite extraordinary.
Later, my second year, I remember standing on top of the ski hill on a back trail which overlooked the school, Lake Michigan and the Manitou Islands and being mesmerized by the absolute beauty. I remember Uncle Whit, Riveredge, the chaos of room change, the sharing and friendships formed, and always laughter and fun. I most remember Leelanau as an extended family where I was called upon to be my best and was surrounded by natures bounty.
How the Leelanau School Impacted My Life
I love that little school in the woods. When I look back 50 years I know that it is Leelanau that gave me my very deep appreciation for nature, wildlife and the outdoors. The teachers fostered my curiosity and desire to keep learning more. Some of the most enduring and endearing friendship I have is from Leelanau. Leelanau gave me building blocks which helped form my character and, in turn, I was able to face both the trials and successes of life with strong resilience and determination.
I took all this to my passions and career in life. An early love of travel led me to working in and then owning a travel agency in Grosse Pointe for a number of years. After that, I moved to Hawaii where I started a tour company with the emphasis on adventure travel. I traveled to Nepal and while there caught a disease which went undiagnosed for 10 years. By the time it was diagnosed, I was in a wheelchair and almost died – it took 5 years of intense therapy and I was told my life would never again be the same.
Another road began and how thankful I was to be able to look at life from a new and different perspective. My life is so quiet now, but it is full in its own way. Next to travel, my other lifelong interest has always been photography; my college major and I worked in it for several years before switching to travel. These days I surround myself with nature, camera in tow, and just enjoy the simple things. I appreciate so much.
Although I only spent 2 years at Leelanau, it has left an indelible mark within my heart. Thank you, Leelanau School.