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Chatfield Brass Band memorializes devoted members by planting a tree
By Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Monday, June 17, 2013 9:30 AM
Teresa Cerling, Robert Thompson, Roy Cerling and Carmen Narveson plant a tree in honor of Thompson's mother and father, the late Chatfield Brass Band members Ray and Vivian Thompson. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
They planted a tree to note the occasion.
"This tree is dedicated to Ray and Vivian Thompson, who were president and secretary-treasurer of the band for so many years. They were great leaders, good rocks to count on," said Chatfield Brass Band (CBB) director Carmen Narveson.
The current members of the CBB gathered to plant a Prairiefire crabapple tree in their memory at the Chatfield Brass Band Music Lending Library on Thursday evening, June 6, before the first concert of the 2013 summer "Music in the Park" series.
The occasion was solemn but celebratory as the musicians remembered Chatfield resident Vivian Thompson, who died May 11, at 93 years of age, while at a family wedding.
The Thompsons were devoted charter CBB members - Ray joined as soon as Jim Perkins formed the band in October of 1969 and Vivian joined as soon as women were welcomed to the ensemble.
Both Vivian and Ray graduated from Chatfield High School with the class of 1937 - the class that was the first to graduate in Potter Auditorium. They married on Sept. 3, 1953, and made their home on the Thompson family farm at Pilot Mound, where Ray farmed and Vivian was a homemaker. They had one son, Robert, and one daughter, Chadra.
The Thompsons were enthusiastic CBB supporters and musicians. Vivian, who played clarinet, enjoyed chatting with fellow clarinetist Carol Lenz.
"I've known Vivian since I started playing in 1976, and she started playing after I did, but we had too much fun," Lenz said. "She always went with Ray to wherever the band was playing anyway, so he thought she should get out her clarinet and play with the band. We always played with the Bucksnort Symphony, too - we were all from the band, and we did small gigs at the nursing homes. She and I played our clarinets and Ray and Meindert Zylstra played their trumpets. We'd play at ice cream socials and around town. She was treasurer for many years, kept lots of scrapbooks for the band, and Ray was president for a long time, too."
Ray died on Dec. 25, 2001, but not without leaving a legacy in Chatfield's City Park, as he and his wife arranged financing at Root River State Bank for the band shell because CBB officers were having difficulty raising funds to build the now much-appreciated structure. The band shell now serves as an outdoor meeting point for musicians and performers throughout the summer, including during Chatfield's Western Days.
As she continued dedicating the crabapple tree, Narveson recounted how they brought the good news to her. "I remember before the band shell was built, we had the plans for it but couldn't get the money, and one day, they came to me and said, 'We've got the loan. We talked to Charles Johnson and worked it out, and we've got the loan,'" she said. "The loan was paid off even before the band shell was built. This tree will be a wonderful tribute to them both."
Flutist and piccolo player Teresa Cerling credits Vivian with recruiting her to play with the CBB. "She was the treasurer for a good 20 years - until 1991, and she's the reason I joined the band," she said. "When we first moved to Minnesota, we bought a house in Pilot Mound and were paid a visit by the pastor, who found out I play flute. We went to buy sweet corn from Ray and Vivian, and the first thing she said was 'Oh, you must be the flute player!'"
In addition to being an enthusiastic member of the CBB until approximately three years ago when she retired from playing, Vivian was a charter member of the Chosen Valley Care Center's Founders Committee, a member of the Pilot Mound Lutheran Church, church organist for 40 years, a member of the Pilot Mound Busy Bees and volunteered at the Chatfield Tourism Center.
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