The 2014 El Dorado Golden Rose is Normadene Carpenter, an honor she was surprised and happy to receive since it means that she doesn’t have all the duties of the El Dorado Rose.
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“The Golden Rose doesn’t go to all the events during the year the way the El Dorado Rose does,” said Carpenter 87.
It’s a good thing because it might be hard for the busy Carpenter to find the time to fulfill those duties.
In her floor length turquoise dress, wide-brimmed hat and white silk sash with “2014 Golden Rose” embroidered on it in gold, Carpenter looks like she might be going to tea, but that’s not her style.
She has always been a mover and shaker — from being valedictorian at Red Bluff Union High School to being president of the California Association for Medical Laboratory Technology to becoming a professional parliamentarian to co-founding a preschool and the Sierra Cultural Arts Center Association and putting on the Butterfly Concert for 33 years.
Currently, she’s the treasurer of the El Dorado County Chapter of People to People, International, and of the Sierra Area California State Association of Parliamentarians and serves on the El Dorado Community Foundation Long Range Planning Committee. Carpenter is also the membership secretary for the El Dorado County Community Concerts Association, a position she has held for 45 years and she still belongs to a host of organizations.
After graduating from Red Bluff Union High School in 1944, Carpenter went to University of California, Berkeley and a counselor talked her into exploring a career in microbiology. She earned her degree in public health and microbiology and got a job at Sutter Hospital in Sacramento where she worked from 1948 to 1951.
“But I liked to travel and after I got back from bicycling through Europe, they told me maybe I didn’t need to come back to work,” said Carpenter.
Not to worry, she quickly got a job as the Clinical Laboratory Scientist at the Placerville Sanatorium. She married John Carpenter, a local businessman, in 1953 and stopped working at the Sanatorium after her children were born and it closed.
Most of the things she’s accomplished have come from her own interests and questions.
“I lived at the Placerville Sanatorium in the nurses’ cottage when I first came to work there,” said Carpenter,” and I would spend every Sunday at the library which was located in the Fox House where the post office is now.”
As a library volunteer from 1952 to 1980, she helped get the library moved to a bigger facility, now Town Hall, and then to its present location on Fair Lane in Placerville.
“I was very happy about that. There’s even a Book Nook there named for me.”
With two preschoolers in the 1950s, Carpenter was determined to make sure they had contact with other kids.
“I was an only child growing up in Red Bluff,” said Carpenter. “I didn’t start school until I was 7. When I had children I decided that they would have the opportunity to be with other children.”
Finding no preschools in the area, she and another mother started their own, Placerville Preschoolers. They hired a teacher and worked as volunteers at the preschool which is still in existence.
She continued to work periodically at El Dorado Public Health and for Placer County Health, filling in when needed.
“I also belonged to a lot of organizations. I noticed that things were wrong at some of the meetings but I didn’t know what,” said Carpenter.
She set out to educate herself about parliamentarian procedure and joined Epsilon. She moved up through the ranks to become a professional registered parliamentarian and has conducted training for organizations all over the state.
Always a lover of music and the arts, Carpenter joined the El Dorado Community Concerts Association in 1951.
“We started out with having concerts at El Dorado High School but then we had to move and went to the Shakespeare Club and to churches and now we’re at Union Mine High School’s theater,” said Carpenter. “We needed a place to perform where we didn’t have to keep traveling around so Richard Harrison and I started the Sierra Cultural Arts Association to build an arts center. ”
After a land donation of 22 acres in Marble Valley, the organization became the Marble Valley Regional Center for the Arts and their yearly gift to the community was the beloved Butterfly Concert each September.
Despite the many years of MVRCA fund-raising, the Harris Center for the Arts in Folsom was built first, only about 15 minutes away and the MVRCA decided to scrap their plan to build an arts center and returned the donated land. The Butterfly Concerts came to a halt.
“But, people miss them (the Butterfly Concerts) and I want to see if the board will put them on again, ” said Carpenter.
She is an emeritus member of the California Association for Medical Laboratory Technique and a former president of the Placerville Chapter of American Association of University Women.
As president of the El Dorado Health Planning Council, she was instrumental in starting Snowline Hospice and getting Gold Country Health Center and Gold Country Retirement Center built.
Carpenter also took over the presidency and fundraising for Progress House Inc. in the 1970s when funding was cut off and kept it afloat.
She has served on the El Dorado Historical Association and as chairman of the board for the Mountain Valley chapter of the American Heart Association.
Carpenter has been married to John for 61 years and together they have traveled the world. They have two children and two grandchildren.
Despite being a member of El Dorado Rose Court in 2011, Carpenter has never been a Rose before. Part of being an El Dorado Rose is grace and presence, but a large part of it is the contribution the Rose has made to the community and, in this case, this Rose is indeed, Golden.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.