MUSICIAN Carol Jean Wehrwein Thomas
Carol and Roy Thomas have enjoyed attending chamber music performances since Carol retired in 1999. They have made generous gifts in support of the continuation of such programs as well as specific performances. (Note by Dave Howard Jul 2008)


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Carol Jean Wehrwein 1946
Carol Jean Wehrwein 1946

George Washington High School, Alexandria, VA, senior photo in the 1946 yearbook, "The Compass"



MEMORIES OF CAROL JEAN WEHRWEIN THOMAS BY MARJORIE LYMAN MILLER

It was early in 1942; our country had just become deeply involved in World War II; one last street was added to the Beverley Hills Community of Alexandria, Virginia and filled with lovely two-story brick colonial homes. Marge Lyman and her family moved into 708 North Overlook Drive and Carol Wehrwein and her family moved into a house across the street. Little did we realize that the friendship forged between those two young teenage girls would thrive and be so meaningful for over 70 wonderful years. Carol and I would meet each school day and walk five blocks to catch the school bus together; we walked home every day after school together; we shared homework in each other’s homes, and we confided teenage secrets with each other.

A major part of our lives was the youth group at Beverley Hills Community Church, where Rev. Bill Basom was our spiritual anchor during those wartime years of fear, anxiety, rationing, and concern for my father, who as a career naval officer, was on board ship fighting in the Pacific. Weekly meetings at the church, confirmation classes, sledding and field trips forged a close bond for our group of about a dozen teenagers that all of us remember to this day.

George Washington High School was our only high school in Alexandria, Virginia and we were diligent students and strong supporters of our teams and our friends. Carol was a member of the Girl’s Glee Club, along with Jane Reynolds (Hayum), Agnes Feild (Burke), and Mary Jane Abdill (Hunt), all members of our Youth Group. On the other hand, I was involved with the Girl’s Athletic Association and played volleyball, basketball, and softball. The statement alongside Carol’s senior picture in The Compass (our high school yearbook) for our 1946 class read: “Carol Jean Wehrwein – rated A by students and teachers alike” to which we all agreed. These were good growing years for both of us, and then we were all off to college – Carol and Mary Jane Abdill to Florida Southern; Marge and Jane Reynolds to Albright College – but even as our paths diverged, we stayed in touch with Christmas and summer visits and letters to each other and by 1950, it seemed those college years had gone by very fast!

And then came the news that Carol was in love and getting married September 9, 1950 – and Carol asked me to be one of her bridesmaids at her wedding where we met Roy Thomas. I remember flying to Detroit, Michigan for several days of wedding preparation and making our own bridesmaid dresses, which were all in lovely pastel colors. An added surprise was that my Dad happened to be on a business trip and arrived by train for the wedding of his neighbor’s daughter and to see his own daughter walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid.

And then on April 16, 1955, Carol was among my bridesmaids when Art Miller and I were married in Beverley Hills Church with Rev. Bill Basom officiating and Mary Jane Abdill as our soloist. Among those attending were Mr. & Mrs.Wehrwein, Roy Thomas, and three-year old Susan who was adorable in a pretty white dress. I still use and cherish the silver tray that Mr. & Mrs. Wehrwein gave us a wedding gift. Carol & Roy’s gift was typical “Carol”, and one of the most valued, appreciated, and ever so practical – ten kitchen utensils in a large waste basket

The years that followed were busy and family-filled as both Carol and I filled our homes with four children each – Carol & Roy in Colorado and Maryland; Art and Marge in Northern Virginia, then Potomac, Maryland and finally in 1974 to Pennsylvania. Thanks to Carol’s genius for clever Christmas cards and an eagerness to stay in touch, our friendship flourished over the years as we watched our sons and daughters mature and grow, marry, and begin families of their own. Carol and Roy traveled to Wayne, PA in April 2005 to help celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, and Marge and Art were honored in 2010 to celebrate with Carol and Roy at their 60th anniversary luncheon in a Georgetown restaurant near Washington, DC. A few years ago, we gathered for a delightful luncheon in Exton, PA where Susan joined us and we shared pictures and stories of our families as well as our mutual interests in music and genealogy.

Now that Carol has gone on ahead of us, it is with gratitude and a thankful heart that I dedicate these fond memories to my longtime friend, Carol Jean Wehrwein Thomas. 
 
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Carol Jean Wehrwein 1948
Carol Jean Wehrwein 1948

Holton-Arms Junior College, photo in the 1948 yearbook, "The Scribe."  
 
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Carol Jean Wehrwein, 1948
Carol Jean Wehrwein, 1948

Holton-Arms Junior College, then Washington, DC (now Potomac MD to grade 12), senior photo in the 1948 yearbook, "The Scribe."

"Carol Jean Wehrwein. Carol takes an active part in Scroll, Scribe (yearbook), and Happy's modern dance, but she devotes most of her time to music. She is one of our most accomplished pianists, and last year she was in the Glee Club as well civic singing groups. The Call of the West is strong in this transplanted Californian, despite her varied activities here. Holton will miss Carol's determination and ready energy when she leaves this year."


MEMORIES OF CAROL JEAN WEHRWEIN THOMAS BY JOHANNA WENSINK THOMPSON (cousin)

Carol’s mother and my father were sister and brother, and for many of our growing-up years the two families lived in the Washington area. Because of this proximity it became a tradition that we shared holiday dinners (always turkey!)

Aside from listening to endless adult conversation and expert demonstrations of turkey carving, what made at least one of these visits memorable was a kind gesture by Carol. Although she was 8 years older than I, on this occasion she took me and my siblings, her “little” cousins, upstairs to play board games. Far superior to listening to discussions of the best way to counteract dandelions!

Our Grandparents held large open house gatherings to celebrate their 50th and 55 wedding anniversaries. Carol’s family and mine stayed in the family home, and other relatives paid visits. One evening when I was 11 and had been put to bed, I stole a look out the window at the aunts and uncles sitting in the yard. Carol, then 19, wrapped a towel turban-style around her just-washed hair and went out to join the adults. This impressed me as being just terribly glamorous and I repeated it several times after we got home. My mother was not impressed.

A project of Carol and other older cousins at the anniversary gathering was trying to identify all the aunts, uncles and cousins who walked through the house, and determine their relationship to each other. This shared information was then carefully added, following much discussion, to the family tree diagram they were developing.

Carol’s interest in genealogy continued the rest of her life. She did a great deal of research on the European roots of the families and was in touch with a relataive who had compiled a book which traced family roots starting in the early 1800’s in Germany. The book represented a huge investment of time, but was merely the starting point for Carol’s own research. She generously spent quite a bit of time in 2010-2011 sharing this information with me.

Through our parents Carol and I were kept abreast of each other’s lives. I knew that she had married in 1950 and gone to live in Colorado. When I married, in 1959, Carol’s wedding gift to me was a casserole dish with at least a dozen hand-written recipe cards inside. These presumably were fairly fool-proof recipes for the new bride. I still have a number of these cards, and every once in a while will come across one. It makes me smile.
 
 
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The Bach Sinfonia, Silver Spring MD
The Bach Sinfonia, Silver Spring MD

The Bach Sinfonia is one of the chamber groups whose performances Roy and Carol Thomas have enjoyed since Carol's retirement in 1999. 
 
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Handel Choir of Baltimore
Handel Choir of Baltimore

The Handel Choir of Baltimore is one of the chamber groups whose performances Roy and Carol Thomas have enjoyed since Carol's retirement in 1999.

MEMORIES OF CAROL JEAN WEHRWEIN THOMAS BY MELINDA O'NEAL AND MAUREEN REGAN (Handel Choir, Retired)

I met Roy by telephone on one of my first days in Baltimore. He and Carol had noticed an article in the Baltimore Sun about my appointment to Handel Choir of Baltimore, and they called the office to find out more. On the spot and to my utter astonishment, they made a donation. Some people bet on horses and the like, but this kind of betting was an investment in the future of singing, arts, and arts education. I was very impressed Roy and Carol understood that we were a startup, despite the organization’s long history. Their interest, initiative, and gift gave me the fuel of encouragement.

Over the nine years of my work with Handel Choir, Maureen Ragan and I often shared lunches and dinners together with Roy and Carol when they came up from Bethesda. We talked about potential projects, strategies, and repertoire. What a joy it was to have these two passionate enthusiasts throw their time and energy into supporting not only us but other smaller arts organizations in the Baltimore-DC area. They strove to attend as many concerts of various smaller organizations as was humanly possible, and they introduced me to other artists, several with whom we collaborated, thanks to Roy and Carol. Few of Handel Choir’s supporters took such a deeply personal approach. The fruits of Roy and Carol’s involvement was remarkable, substantial and enduring.

We have many very happy memories of Carol: her hand-made greeting cards; her passion for teaching English to new-comers; her love of singing music and cultivating success for Peabody students; and her sitting in the front row at concerts to not just hear but see everything, too. To watch her and Roy negotiate the choice of lunch or dinner entrée to share was always fascinating! Carol was outspoken and a fire-brand of conviction. We both are honored to have known her. 
 
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Handel's 'Alexander's Feast,' performed by The Bach Sinfonia of Silver spring, MD and The Handel Choir of Baltimore
Handel's "Alexander's Feast," performed by The Bach Sinfonia of Silver spring, MD and The Handel Choir of Baltimore

Carol and Roy Thomas introduced the directors of these two groups, who then collaborated first in a performance of "Alexander's Feast" in Washington, D.C at a national convention of musicologists and then in the recording of the CD at another venue. 
 
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Carmina, Falls Church, VA
Carmina, Falls Church, VA

Carmina is one of the chamber groups whose performances Roy and Carol Thomas have enjoyed since Carol's retirement in 1999. 
 
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The Washington Kantorei, Falls Church VA
The Washington Kantorei, Falls Church VA

The Washington Kantorei is one of the chamber groups whose performances Roy and Carol Thomas have enjoyed since Carol's retirement in 1999.


MEMORIES OF CAROL JEAN WEHRWEIN THOMAS BY DALE VOELKER (co-founder, Washington Kantorei)

Carol's and Roy's encouragement to the Washington Kantorei was very important to us, and their generosity motivated us to undertake new and higher things. I remember our German Embassy concerts with Carol and Roy sitting in the audience, supporting us, clapping for us, urging us to keep going.

MEMORIES OF CAROL JEAN WEHRWEIN THOMAS BY ROBERT PETILLO (co-founder, Washington Kantorei)

Though I didn't know Carol that well, I will always recall her sweet smile, and the happy sight of Carol and Roy together at concerts. What a love of music they shared. We certainly appreciated deeply all that Carol and Roy did in support of the Washington Kantorei. They played a major role in its continuing all those years.  
 
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Invitation to a reception at the German Embassy, 16 May 2007
Invitation to a reception at the German Embassy, 16 May 2007

The Cultural Attache, who arranged musical performances at the Embassy by The Washington Kantorei, The Beethoven Society, and other organizations, was bid farewell upon her retirement and return to Germany.

The photograph shows the Attache and her husband at ease during one of their travels in the United States.  
 
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Cantate Chamber Singers, Bethesda MD
Cantate Chamber Singers, Bethesda MD

Cantate Chamber Singers is one of the chamber groups whose performances Roy and Carol Thomas have enjoyed since Carol's retirement in 1999. 
 
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Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, Alexandria VA
Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, Alexandria VA
Carol and Roy Thomas have enjoyed the performance of various chamber groups since her retirement in 1999. They have become benefactors of many of these performing groups. 
 
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Fessenden Ensemble, Washington DC 2006
Fessenden Ensemble, Washington DC 2006

Fessenden is one of the chamber groups whose performances Roy and Carol Thomas have enjoyed since Carol's retirement in 1999. Most are members of the National Symphony Orchestra or the Marine Corps Band. 
 
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Pro Musica Rara, Baltimore MD
Pro Musica Rara, Baltimore MD

Pro Musica Rara is one of the chamber groups whose performances Roy and Carol Thomas have enjoyed since Carol's retirement in 1999.


MEMORIES OF CAROL JEAN WEHREIN THOMAS BY PENNY SCHWARZ, PRO MUSICA RARA

Carol Thomas was a very special friend not only to Michael and me but to the entire Pro Musica Rara family as well! She and Roy were most caring, dedicated, philanthropic patrons of PMR for many years. It was a pleasure to greet both of them at concerts.

Carol was very bright and most articulate! She spoke beautifully and with great clarity to display her feelings and emotions. Her artistic ability and creativity was frequently exemplified in the greeting cards that we were so privileged to receive.

One musical experience, aside from many at Pro Musica Rara concerts and functions, that was so special to Mike and me, was our escorting Carol and Roy to an Embassy in Washington, D.C. for dinner and a special musical evening. It was fun to be with Roy and Carol and to experience her wit and exhuberance! What a fun evening!

Even when Carol became ill and had difficulty getting around, she and Roy faithfully attended Pro Musica Rara concerts. With a smile and very kind words, she expressed her happiness at being part of a wonderful musical afternoon. Carol knew that she was failing physically and occasionally commented, but she still exemplified the same style, grace, and cheerful demeanor that were her trademark for many years. Still cheerful and delightful in spite of her ailments!

Carol was a wonderful, very special friend, and we are so happy to have had her and Roy in our lives. The Pro Musica Rara Board and extended family express the same sentiments! 
 
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Peabody Renaissance Ensemble, Baltimore MD
Peabody Renaissance Ensemble, Baltimore MD

The Renaissance Ensemble of The Peabody Conservatory, Johns Hopkins University, is one of the chamber groups whose performances Roy and Carol Thomas have enjoyed since Carol's retirement in 1999.


MEMORIES OF CAROL JEAN WEHRWEIN THOMAS BY MARK CUDEK

I have MANY memories of Carol being at just about every one of my concerts for a period of several years. She always sat in the front row. When I conducted, I couldn’t see her, but when I played, I could and she often had such a beatific look on her face. She was so engaged and swept away by the music. It made me, as well as my student performers, who also saw her, more comfortable, more confident, and more satisfied with what we were sharing. Carol took everything in and at intermission and after the concerts she ALWAYS had questions about specific pieces, performers, or instruments. She was the audience member every musician loves playing for. Of course she (and Roy) also took a deep interest in my family and always asked how various members were doing and always remembered the specifics of one of our ups or downs. She was amazingly supportive and we will all miss her dearly.


MEMORIES OF CAROL JEAN WEHRWEIN THOMAS BY LISA CUDEK

Carol is vivid in my mind. One of the things that I found special about Carol was her authenticity. She had a way of being interested and supportive, while retaining a wry--sometimes surprising--humor, and unabashed honesty. When we were with Carol and Roy together, I always noticed the energy and authority they both brought to being at a concert or conversing over a meal. I appreciated that, as a couple, their combined life experience and knowledge was blended with so much appreciation for, and curiosity about, the world. I smile when I remember seeing Carol and Roy engage with one another because they seemed to respect one another without taking each other too seriously. That might be one of the reasons that theeir long marriage seemed to be a partnership of equals. I am glad to have known Carol. 
 
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Postcard announcing the concert, 'Courtly Splender:  Music for Royal Occasions, 25 March 2007
Postcard announcing the concert, "Courtly Splender: Music for Royal Occasions, 25 March 2007

"Courtly Splender" presented by the Peabody Renaissance Ensemble and Baltimore Baroque Band, Pro Musica Rara, and The Handel Choir of Baltimore at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, and underwritten by Roy & Carol Thomas.  
 
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Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA
Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA

The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival is one whose performances Roy and Carol Thomas have enjoyed since Carol's retirement in 1999.


MEMORIES OF CAROL JEAN WEHWEIN BY MARY KAY ADAMS (former Executive Director)

The Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival was enriched by Carol's ideas and suggestions, attendance at a multitude of concerts throughout the years, her contagious enthusiasm, her continued financial support, her true friendship, and her beautiful, glowing smile when we saw her each summer. Carol's and Roy's establishment of a festival endowment will ensure the continuation of the SVBF long into the future. And I will always be grateful for the way in which Carol touched my life personally in a very wonderful way.


MEMORIES OF CAROL JEAN WEHWEIN BY LOREN SWARTZENDRUBER
(President Emeritus, Eastern Mennonite University)

During our 13 years at EMU, Pat and I always anticipated seeing Roy and Carol on campus in June for the annual Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival. Though Carol's health and energy declined in recent years, we were inspired by her gracious spirit and deep love of classical music. 
 
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Baldwin-Wallace College Bach Festival, Berea, Ohio
Baldwin-Wallace College Bach Festival, Berea, Ohio

This festival, the oldest continuous collegiate Bach festival in the United States, is one that Roy and Carol Thomas have enjoyed since Carol's retirement in 1999.  
 


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