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The Ark in the News


Richard Shackson

Richard Shackson, Ark Board Member from 1999-2009, died peacefully at the Chelsea Retirement Community on October 31, 2014. Richard was the first Chair of the Facilities Committee that was created following The Ark's move to 316 S. Main. He had lasting impact on the venue and those of us who were privileged to work with him. Famous for his "punch lists," he established important protocols and took on key projects throughout his tenure. He came to know the venue as well as those who had built it out, and his personal care of the space set a high bar that we strive to maintain.

Though his musical tastes ran toward jazz and classical, his affection for The Ark and the people he worked with there was deep and lasting. He enthusiastically explored music unfamiliar to him, attending several Ann Arbor Folk Festivals and sampling various artists at The Ark. Not surprisingly, Susan Werner and Mr. B were among his Ark favorites.

We missed his presence when he moved from downtown Ann Arbor to the Chelsea Retirement Community four years ago. We remember him as the gracious Renaissance man that he was--generous, kind, equally at home discussing an engineering problem, fine arts painting or musical performance. He was a great man and a wonderful friend.

Richard's obituary can be found here.

The family has designated The Ark as the recipient of gifts made in Richard's memory. If you would like to make a donation, you may mail a check with Richard's name in the memo line to The Ark, 316 S. Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. To donate using a credit card, please call The Ark's business office at 734-761-1800 or click the "Donate Now" button below. When donating on line please include Richard's name in the "special instructions" area during the check-out process.

The Ark Focuses on Long-term Future with Condo Purchase

On December 28, 2012 we completed a transaction that will help assure The Ark’s sustainability long into the future: we purchased our venue at 316 South Main Street as a condominium. For the first time in The Ark’s 48-year history, we own our home.

It’s a milestone that’s been years in the making as we considered every available option in our quest to secure a permanent location before the final term of our lease expired in 2016. Purchasing our space on Main Street was always our first choice. Everything had to line up perfectly and in the end it did: building owner Dr. Reza Rahmani was willing to work with us; Ann Arbor State Bank provided very favorable terms on a loan; we built up enough reserves in recent years to make a meaningful down payment. We’re very, very lucky. I’m mindful of the mantra that accompanied this process: “Luck is where hard work and opportunity meet.” Indeed.

To make the most of this opportunity we’re undertaking a capital campaign with a goal of paying our loan off in 5-7 years. The campaign will also raise funds for capital improvement projects such as updating the concessions area and renovating the box office. We’ll spend the next two years talking personally to as many of our supporters and constituents as possible, then roll the campaign out more broadly to the public in 2015 in conjunction with our 50th Anniversary. We’ll have a lot to celebrate!

Thanks to all of our constituents for your support – past, present and in the exciting future ahead. We look forward to setting our roots deeper in our home on Main Street, bringing music to you and contributing to the vibrancy and economic success of downtown Ann Arbor for years to come.

David Perlman

David Perlman, administrator, educator, inventor, engineer, entrepreneur, mentor, and raconteur, passed away February 8, 2013 in his home with his family. David was a committed and long-standing Ark Board Member and a former President of The Ark’s Board of Directors. He was also Co-Chair of The Ark’s Charter Members.

David was born September 30, 1940 to Ruth (Ingber) and Nate Perlman, who both predeceased him. Born in Saginaw, he spent his childhood in Ann Arbor, and his junior high and high school years in Tucson, AZ. David returned to the Ann Arbor area in the early '60's to work at the family business, Diehl Wreckers, and attend the University of Michigan, where he eventually completed two degrees. David thought of Ann Arbor as his home forever after.

David's life was too brief, but he achieved much in a little over 72 years: a career as an administrator and innovator of non-traditional graduate degrees at the University of Michigan School of Public Health; an amateur designer of race cars and lifelong gear head; a champion of local folk music, starting in the days of Mark's Coffee House and the Canterbury House and continuing through decades of involvement with The Ark; an active participant in local Democratic Party politics and campaigns; an inventor and partner in three biomedical device companies; a sharer of his time and energy as a board member for The Ark and Trichotillomania Learning Center; a beloved member of an extended and close-knit family.

In addition to his polymath interests and skills, David will be remembered for his warm smile, his generous nature, his endless supply of corny jokes, his bountiful collection of obscure but fascinating facts, a treasure trove of Tin Pan Alley songs, and his ability to quickly sketch out a technological diagram on any paper napkin that was handy.

David will be missed by everyone whose lives he touched.

A memorial service for David will take place at The Ark on Sunday, April 14. The service will be held from 1 to 2:15 p.m. with refreshments to follow from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m. We welcome all friends of David to join us in remembering and celebrating his life.

George Peapples

George Peapples, committed and loving family man, friend to many, accomplished automotive executive and decorated civil servant, passed away at home on Wednesday, March 7 after living courageously with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) for the past two years. George was an Ark Board Member for nearly a decade and served as Board Chair from 2004-2009. Prior to his volunteer service with The Ark he had a distinguished career with General Motors, interrupted from 1977 to 1980 when he accepted a Presidential appointment to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. As a result of his service, he received the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award. After leaving government service, George returned to GM and spent several years during the latter part of his career in Canada, including serving as President and General Manager of GM Canada.

George was born and raised in Benton Harbor, Michigan. He received his BA and MBA from the University of Michigan and remained a lifelong UM fan. He and his wife Becky lived in Ann Arbor for much of his career, spending plentiful time on the western side of the state that he cherished. The Peapples were well-known to The Ark, thanks to Becky's banjo-playing and her involvement with the Argo Pond String Band. They’ve been generous Ark supporters on numerous fronts across the years. When George retired and returned permanently to Ann Arbor, we were fortunate to recruit him to our Campaign for The Ark Committee, then to the board. George presided over the board as Chair during a period of organizational growth and transition. He took his volunteer leadership role seriously, bringing his characteristic good thinking, calm demeanor and deep dedication to the organization. George was diagnosed with ALS in 2010 and the disease progressed rapidly. True to form, he remained engaged and positive in the face of a debilitating disease. He is missed.

A full obituary can be found here.

Richard Dieterle

Musician, physician, farmer, friend to The Ark and countless others, Richard “Dick” Dieterle took his final leave on February 28, 2012 following an honorable battle with cancer. A stellar community champion in several roles (music patron, bluegrass ambassador, community volunteer, township trustee, to name a few), Dick was most widely recognized standing tall as the fiddle player and emcee for Michigan’s renowned bluegrass band, the RFD Boys.

Born and raised in rural Ann Arbor township, Dick graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1969, the same year he started the RFD Boys. For the next 42 years, as each built a professional career outside of performing, the Band’s four original members have enjoyed a storied musical romp together. Starting out by playing around town at Mr. Floods Party, Lums and The Pretzel Bell, they’ve gone on to play for heads of state and crossed the oceans for gigs in Germany, Austria, Monaco, and Australia. For the last 20 years their home base has been The Ark, where we’ve been pleased and privileged to feature them as our house bluegrass band.

Dick was known for his on-stage comedic humor and his extraordinary sense of timing as the RFD Boys’ emcee. His last, and proudest, contribution to the art form was an instrumental bluegrass CD of his own compositions, which he completed weeks before his death.

We’ll miss this wonderful musician, community leader and friend. Gifts in Dick’s memory can be made to The Ark at 316 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 or Webster Historical Society, P.O. Box 253, Dexter, MI 48130.

If you would like to make a donation to The Ark in Richard Dieterle's memory, you may mail a check with Richard's name in the memo line to the address listed above. To donate using a credit card, please call The Ark's business office at 734-761-1800 or click the "Donate Now" button below. When donating on line please include Richard's name in the "special instructions" area during the check-out process.

A full obituary can be found here.

Click here for's recent article with more remembrances of Dick Dieterle.

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