Lynette was an enthusiastic and active member of The Kent Singers alto section for many years. She loved people, had a ready smile and an upbeat attitude about life; nothing ever got her down. Lynette’s fun sense of humor evidenced itself in little ways: amused by our all-black concert attire, she and Louise used to call each other “Mort”, for Morticia!
Music was an integral part of Lynette’s being; she sang in choral groups all her life and besides classical music, she had a particular love of Broadway musicals. She contributed to The Kent Singers in a big way, serving on the board and bringing in record amounts in donations and ads through her many connections in the community. She even kept getting ads for a couple of years after she had stopped singing!
At lunches together we laughed a lot; Lynette had a light touch with life, didn’t take things too seriously, made friends easily. She seemed to know everyone: anywhere we went Lynette ran into old friends. She was an avid reader: we shared a love of historical novels and often swapped book ideas. Lynette is my role model for aging: until far into her eighties she stayed physically, socially and mentally active.
— Nancy Adams Morse, Kent Singer
Lynette was unfailingly cheerful and upbeat, and always looked fashionable and put together. She was also a fearless fundraiser; she had several Kent Singers advertisers well trained to buy ads in our programs.
–Melissa Merkling, Kent Singer
We thank the Cornell family for designating The Kent Singers as the organization to which donations can be made in Lynette’s memory.
We are all grieving and still in shock over the sudden loss of our dear Louise. Her niece, Maya, been especially appreciative of the Kent Singers. Maya sent us this email:
Please let the Kent Singers know what a special place they hold in her heart — and mine as well! She loved pouring over the information to create programs for your performances. She admired Knox’s notes — not just the details about the pieces you performed, but the historical details and his interpretations as well. Magical.
She also found comfort and pleasure in singing with such a dedicated group. She told me about her routines in preparing for the different pieces — researching online, getting together with other singers, and I found several boxes of Throat Coat Tea in her kitchen. She would describe in detail the rehearsals, how the groups engaged with one another and Knox’s natural ability to draw out the talents of each singer and group. The pandemic interrupted your time together in-person, which she missed dearly.
The consistency and care of community, the sharing of musical passions, and the camaraderie — all ingredients to a full life she lived up here. Living in the Kent area and being part of the Kent Singers was heaven on earth for her (and for me when I visited) — one member wrote, “I want to surround her with love and wish her godspeed. Maybe she’s on her way to the land where music really lives.”
You all were that place and that comfort for her.
Tributes published in our Messiah concert program:
Louise was a lady—educated, elegant and under-stated—with a zany sense of humor that revealed an exuberant, youthful soul. She was adventurous and liked to travel and try new things. She loved to cook and appreciated good food; she loved plants and worked tirelessly in her luxuriant gardens. She loved dogs, knew all about their training and upbringing, and always had a faithful canine companion at home. She loved spending time with her family. Her spotless little house was sparingly furnished with treasures that showcased her good taste.
And Louise loved music. In spring 2020, when Covid put an end to Kent Singers rehearsals, we sat on my porch and practiced the “Songs of the British Isles” program a cappella, song by song, with her singing alto to my soprano. When the Kent Singers finally performed the concert two years later, this past March, Louise had already left us.
Louise was generous, sharing perennials from her garden and stylish clothes from her wardrobe. She was organized, thoughtful, cultured, charming, witty, insightful, and a delight to be with. She exited this life as many of us would want to: quickly and quietly, without fanfare, leaving us all in shock yet grateful to have known her and to have walked beside her for a little while.
— Mellisa Merkling, Kent Singer
I am one of the altos and one of the many now broken-hearted over the loss of Louise. She was a dear friend and it is difficult to sing without her by my side. I remember first meeting her and admiring those curls of hers! We used to practice music for a concert at my house, since I had a piano, and we wanted our singing to be as close to perfect as possible. We would let each other know if a note was off, or if I was too loud! A true friend. We shared a love of dogs as well as our music, although her love of sweets surpassed mine! She was so intelligent and could discuss any subject with insight. She is greatly missed!
— Lori McDonald, Kent Singer
I first met Louise over 30 years ago when she was a puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. She later was employed by Guiding Eyes, as was I, and our friendship continued. When I think of Louise, I think of a woman who always loved dogs, especially German Shepherds. It was rare to see Louise without a dog by her side, whether during her tenure at Guiding Eyes or in the years to follow. How many times I bumped into her as we were each out for a walk with our dogs!
— Susan White, Kent Singer
Louise was such a beautiful and gentle soul. She welcomed me into the Kent Singers and we became friends over her love of animals and her great care of her dogs. Animals know when they are safe and loved and hers certainly did.
— Trish Grinnell, Kent Singer
The alto section is not the same without Louise’s calm and regal presence, lovely voice, and enthusiasm. Her interests and friendships were wide-ranging: she enjoyed discussing everything from ethics to car problems, always reading an interesting book. She looked for what was admirable, or unusual, in others. She had a sly sense of humor, too, and loved finding what was quirky in the behavior of those around her. She was so fond of the whole gamut of the Kent Singers. There were many things I meant to do with Louise! She is still very present in our thoughts.
— Ann Quackenbos, Kent Singer
As an alto I have a lot of alternatives for whom to sit next to. But Louise could be counted on to be professional, good-humored, and on point at every rehearsal. Because I wasn’t the only alto to notice this, she was often surrounded by others, but I always got as close as I could. Louise was a singer’s singer and an alto’s alto. Even though our alto section is our largest section, it is just too small since Louise left us.
— Robin Gustafson, Kent Singer
The Kent Singers is just not the same without Louise’s steady hand. She was the driving force behind the group’s return to its former glory. And behind is the right word: Louise always worked her magic from behind the scenes, with no fanfare, on tasks as varied as creating flawless concert programs to maintaining accurate historical concert data… and everything in between.
Varied also describes Louise’s many interests, and the diverse group of people who were lucky enough to call her friend. Whether it be Guiding Eyes, the Kent Library, the New Milford Hospital, or the Kent Singers, Louise left her imprint on Litchfield County, and we all mourn her loss.
— Norma Hart, Kent Singer
From the moment I began conducting The Kent Singers, I had the pleasure of working closely with Louise to prepare the concert programs—a job she handled patiently and professionally. Over the years, I got to know her better on a personal level, particularly in the months she provided a warm bed, delicious food, and rides to and from the train station, when I was commuting too far to get home on Wednesday nights. Most of all, she provided the most wonderful companionship on those nights and very early mornings, and we often talked much too late into the night.
Louise turned a challenging period of my life—with long commutes, stress over housing, and too much time apart from my (then) fiancé—into a special time that was abruptly cut short by the onset of the pandemic, when rehearsals and life in general ground to a halt. Louise and I had been discussing options for her to practice sight-reading, when I heard the sudden news of her passing. She was an inquisitive learner to the end and always looking to grow. I miss her dearly and often still expect to see her smiling face and attentive eyes in the alto section.
Louise left behind a CD she had put together of her favorite choral music, which we found in her Kent Singers folder. We have selected “He watching over Israel,” from Mendelssohn’s Elijah as a prologue to our concert in memory of and thanks for her legacy.