September 20, 2014

Remembering Terry Carpenter

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Memorial service for longtime Town Band conductor set for Nov. 10

Terry Carpenter

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Terry Carpenter accomplished many things during her 90 years of living.

She served as choir director at Williston Federated Church and conducted the Williston Town Band for more than 40 years. She gave piano lessons in her Williston home for more than 30 years. She was a mother of four, a grandmother of nine and a great-grandmother of eight.

But perhaps the most impressive accomplishment of Carpenter, who died Sept. 27, was her perseverance after suffering a massive stroke in 2003. As her daughter, Cheryl Faria, tells it, Carpenter refused to listen when doctors told her she would never play piano again.

“She went back to her beginner piano books, the ones she used to teach from, and taught herself to play,” Faria said. “It was really hard, because her left hand didn’t cooperate well, but she taught herself to play, and then in 2008, she and my sister Karen played duets. They would actually go to nursing homes, my mother would tell her story and they would play duets.”

Karen Reed, née Carpenter, said that even before her mother was able to resume her piano playing she taught baking to her caregivers.

“She was just the kindest person,” Reed said. “She had her stroke, so she was dependent on a lot of people, but she had an amazing ability to be gracious about her limitations and just do what she could with them.”

Reed, a Williston resident who teaches music at Hiawatha Elementary School in Essex Junction, served in the Town Band for many years under her mother’s leadership.

“My mom really helped set the tone for a band that sounded good, but it was also just a really, really fun group. It was so enjoyable to be a part of it,” she said.

The Town Band was co-founded in 1958 by Herb Painter and Howard Carpenter, Terry’s husband. Its current president, Barb Russ, remembers its longtime conductor with fondness.

“The Williston Town Band was very fortunate to have Terry Carpenter as its conductor for so many years,” Russ wrote in an email to the Observer. “She grew the band membership from the small core of founding members to include musicians of all ages, from exceptional middle schoolers to octogenarians, with many coming from surrounding communities. … No matter what one’s playing ability was, she encouraged everyone to grow musically, do his or her best, gain confidence, and have fun.”

A memorial service for Terry Carpenter will be held Saturday, Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. at Williston Federated Church. A reception will follow in the church’s Fellowship Hall.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Williston Town Band, c/o Barbara Russ, 4 Brownell Way, South Burlington, Vt. 05403, or to The Terry Carpenter Memorial Fund, c/o Shelburne Bay Senior Living Community, 145 Pine Haven Shores Road, Shelburne, Vt. 05482.

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