For some forty-eight years, a familiar face on the University of Michigan campus was that of Nora Crane Hunt. Some thirty-eight of these years, 1903-1941, she was a member of the Music Faculty. Her teaching retirement was followed by ten years as the Alumni Secretary of the School of Music, where she did excellent service in her contacts with the hundreds of men and women who were the School of Music Alumni personnel.
To everything to which she gave her attention, Nora Crane Hunt brought zest, a real joy in living and in participation, and an innate goodwill and a humor all her own. To her art, she brought solid and continually growing backgrounds. For Sigma Alpha Iotas at her Alma Mater she engendered a natural sense of pride. Her presence at many National Conventions brought a gleam to her eye and an effervescence of spirit, responded to in full measure by those whose privilege it was to be in close or even more distant contact with her. She jokingly spoke of herself as being known as the longest of the seven "Pipes of Pan."
Nora Crane Hunt graduated from the School of Music in 1903. A contralto, she studied with William Howland, Theodore Harrison, Emilio Agremonte, and Frederick Bristol of New York. Further work was with Dudley Buck at Columbia University and Dr. Augustus Milner in London, England. Her choral conducting studies were with two English conductors, William Dodds and George Wisner at Columbia University.
In addition to her voice work at Michigan, Nora Crane Hunt directed the University Girl's Glee Club for twenty-five years, 1910-1935. In her concert activities, her preference was oratorio. Locally, she directed the choir and sang in the quartet of the First Presbyterian Church.
Nora's home was in Jackson, Michigan, thirty-seven miles west of Ann Arbor. She maintained a studio there and commuted until 1912, then making her home in Ann Arbor. Of her commuting days she writes: "If anyone thinks pioneering is dull perhaps the following personal experience may dispel that idea. One stormy, winter night the trolley car went off the track not far from the home town (Jackson) and landed in a snow drift. This was no ordinary storm, for the snow kept falling until it was level with the car windows. When daybreak came, one passenger back of me said, 'Did you ever see the sun rise on Washington's birthday ?' Later in the day, help arrived but it wasn't until next mid-afternoon that I reached home and mother."
Regarding the early days of SAI, Nora wrote: "It seemed so much better to grow slowly, for no one was presented for membership unless her talent was outstanding. Please do not think that these seven people considered themselves prima donnas and the 'finished product.' Far from it. They simply had high ideals, and wanted to place Sigma Alpha Iota on such a high standard that she would always lead, and, no matter what the storm, come out with colors flying and head high. Each girl in her own chapter should gladly do what she is called upon to do. It may mean sacrifice in some way but remember, there were many sacrifices made in the early days, but they are all forgotten in the joy of the present and the hope of the future."
On November 14, 1949, as Nora was preparing to attend an Executive Board Luncheon of the Ann Arbor Alumnae Chapter, death came very suddenly.
In 1958, a great tribute was tendered to this radiant person who gave so much of her life to the life of the University. One of the nine new housing units within the Mary Butler Markley Hall, a six-million dollar Residence Hall for Women at the University of Michigan, was named after this beloved Founder, Nora Crane Hunt.