Traverse City Record-Eagle

March 23, 2013

Raffle winner donates prize to dad, his fiancée

BY MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS mdrahos@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A last-minute decision proved to be a lucky one for a Traverse Symphony Orchestra concert patron.

Maureen Street, of Elk Rapids, bought the winning ticket in the orchestra’s Maestro Raffle just minutes before the winner was announced at intermission during a March 17 concert. She immediately donated the prize — a trip to Vienna for two — to her father, Don Garrett, and his fiancée, Joan Blue.

“The minute they announced her name, she turned to me and I said, ‘I’m so happy for you,’” said Garrett, a retired real estate agent. “And she said, ‘No, I’m so happy for you, because you and Joanie are going.’”

“She’s always been that kind of person,” Garrett said.

The raffle was a fundraiser for the orchestra and a way to obtain new support from the community, said TSO interim director Krista Cooper. The raffle tickets cost $250 each. The prize package, valued at $4,500, includes round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations for three nights, tickets to a Vienna State Opera performance of a ballet conducted by TSO music director Kevin Rhodes, and dinner with Rhodes.

“Many of the people who purchased tickets were not current members, which was the case with Maureen,” Cooper said. “We were just thrilled that they won. We couldn’t have paid for better marketing. They were sitting in the third row and when Maureen’s name was called she threw her arms in the air and squealed. Her father’s face was so excited, and he hugged her. They were overjoyed. It was marvelous.”

Street said she bought her winning ticket at intermission after learning of the raffle during a pre-concert announcement. After returning to her seat, she’d teased her dad that he should stand in the aisle so he wouldn’t have to climb over people’s legs to accept the prize.

“My dad is engaged and his fiancée is a classical pianist who has basically spent her life in sacrifice and service to others,” said Street, 58, a physician at East Jordan Family Health Center. “She was a minister’s wife until he died, and she played piano for various churches. So when I heard ‘Vienna,’ and I know how much they love music and art, I knew I had to buy a ticket. I was ecstatic when they won.”

Garrett, 86, said he called Blue as soon as he got home from the concert and told her about the trip.

“I was very delighted and very surprised,” said Blue, 78, who lives in Naples, Fla. and on Torch Lake near Rapid City. “It was a total surprise because I didn’t even know she was going to buy the ticket. I’m just overwhelmed.”

Garrett said the couple likely will take the trip as a sort of wedding honeymoon between May 25 and June 19. They plan to extend their stay by a week and perhaps go on a river cruise and take in an opera while there.

“We don’t have a wedding date yet, but I think this is going to help us,” he said.

Blue is a widow and Garrett is a two-time widower. Both are “healthy as hogs,” said Garrett, who has walked between eight and 12 miles a week since suffering a heart attack in August.

The trip will be their first to Vienna, though both have been to Europe — Garrett, during service in World War II.

“If I drop dead tomorrow, I’ve had a good life,” Garrett said. “But I’ve got to get this trip in.”