Women leaders

St. Cecilia Music Center always has been supported by women.
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The St. Cecilia Quintette circa 1920. Pictured are Miss Amy Hudson (viola), Mrs. John Dietrich (cello), Miss Maria Lund (piano), Mrs. C.B. Newcomb (second violin), and Miss Hazel Clark (first violin). Courtesy Grand Rapids Public Library

In 1883, nine local women organized the St. Cecilia Society with a goal of encouraging the appreciation and development of music in Grand Rapids. Their work played a role in the development of the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Grand Rapids Symphony and Opera Grand Rapids.

Stella Royce (1927-2019) is one of many women who stand out in St. Cecilia’s history. The daughter of Polish immigrants, Royce was orphaned by the age of 5. After serving in the Foreign Service in the Dominican Republic and Mexico, she married Chuck Royce and operated the family business, Royce Rolls Ringer, with him. The pair shared a love for music, and Stella Royce devoted her time and financial support to the arts in Grand Rapids, especially St. Cecilia. She thought it was important to share music and art with kids, saying, “(Art) is such an important part of life. It’s what makes your soul work.”

On March 7, Royce will be honored for her work with St. Cecilia and the arts in Grand Rapids with the Helen DeVos Legacy Award.

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