Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The 2011 El Dorado Rose Court


Norma Dean Carpenter. Democrat photo by Pat Dollins

Normadene Carpenter

Wherever Normadene Carpenter of Placerville goes, so go the Roses. She looks like a rose and acts like a rose, and is at all the same events that Roses attend, like the Butterfly Concert. Most people probably just assume that she already is an El Dorado Rose or one of the Ladies of the Court.

In actuality, this is the first time that Carpenter, 84, has accepted the nomination. “I’ve just always been so darned busy,” she asserted.

When asked how she manages all her commitments, Carpenter said: “I sleep pretty well at night, let me tell you.”

Carpenter, now an official Lady of the Court, was sponsored by the El Dorado County Historical Society. However, she could have been nominated by one of the numerous organizations that have benefited from her unflagging devotion to the arts and the betterment of her community.

While Carpenter is known for her promotion of the El Dorado County Community Concert Association, of which she has been a member since 1951, it is just one of the activities that qualifies her to be one of El Dorado County’s premier ambassadresses. A past president of the concert association, she has served as membership secretary for the past 41 years.

In 1978, she and another member of the concert association founded the Sierra Cultural Arts Center Association, which became the Marble Valley Regional Center for the Arts.

Walking musically

For the past 32 years, Carpenter has been instrumental in bringing the Butterfly Concert to El Dorado County. The Butterfly Concert is one of the county’s most cherished events. It happens every year, bringing the community together for a musical extravaganza.

Carpenter used to play the piano. She doesn’t play much anymore, but she is a diva of musical appreciation. Her volunteer focus includes, but is not limited to being a member and past president of the El Dorado Arts Council. Carpenter is a member of the El Dorado County Historical Society, the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce, the American River Conservancy and the Gold Discovery Park Association.

Walking properly

Another claim to fame, however, is Carpenter’s parliamentary expertise. She became a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians in 1986. She became a Registered Parliamentarian in 1978, then achieved the status of “Professional Registered Parliamentarian.” Carpenter has given workshops for the California State Association of Parliamentarians, where she as also served as vice president.

“I teach parliamentary procedure, which is meeting management on a volunteer basis,” Carpenter said, “and I do pro bono work as a parliamentarian for various organizations. I just saw the need for the proper order, so I learned it. I’m very happy to teach it, too, because it is an ideal way to run meetings properly.”

Carpenter is both gracious and modest, but when she promotes a cause, she is full of verve. The magnitude of her accomplishments and the wide range of her compassion is staggering.

Walking with education

Carpenter came to El Dorado County in 1951. She graduated from Red Bluff High School in 1944 as Valedictorian, and she earned her bachelor of science in public health microbiology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1948.

Carpenter became the president of the California Association of Medical Laboratory Technology, and is still an emeritus member. She worked in the Sutter General Hospital Laboratory for three years and was in charge of the clinical laboratory at the Placerville Sanitarium after moving to Placerville.

Her membership in the American Association of University Women, though, denotes a dedication to education and to helping society, As member and a former president of the Placerville branch, Carpenter has worked as chairman of several committees of the AAUW, which like Carpenter, has a long list of good works to their credit.

She married John Carpenter in 1953 and raised two children, Lorie Duncan and Kevin Carpenter, which spurred her to become a founding member of the Placerville Preschoolers; she incorporated that organization when her children were preschool age in the late 1950s.

Walking with books

One of Carpenter’s passions are books and reading. She became a volunteer at the El Dorado County Library in 1952, where she volunteered until 1980 and served as president of the Friends of the Library of El Dorado County. She also served and chaired on the El Dorado County Library Commission.

“I helped to get the new El Dorado County Library facility on Fair Lane,” Carpenter noted, adding that she helped to move the library from the old Fox house on Sacramento and Benham streets (now the post office), where it had been established in 1947. Then the library was located at the Purity Building (now Town Hall) on Main Street where it remained until the new facility was completed in 1978.

“I just feel that it’s important,” Carpenter said simply about all her work. She feels that books and libraries, like music and art, are vastly important in a community.

Walking with compassion

In 1978, Carpenter became instrumental in rescuing Progress House, which was a residential alcoholism recovery home. When Proposition 13 passed in 1978, funds for such services were slashed. Progress House was floundering, and Carpenter was asked to take over the presidency.

As president from 1978-1982, she kept Progress House alive. Carpenter chaired the El Dorado County Drug and Alcohol Commission, again utilizing her parliamentary knowledge, and remained a member for several years.

“All the alcoholics I met were wonderful people,” Carpenter mused compassionately. “And now there is a lot of drug addiction too. But we shouldn’t judge them, and they can and should be helped. I was glad to be able to help provide that service.”

More awards

Carpenter has received too many awards and accolades to enumerate, but she was given recognition in 1984 by the California State Assembly for her efforts in obtaining the Gold Country Health Center, which later added Gold Country Retirement Community. She was given the individual Philanthropist Award by the national Society of Fund Raising Executives in 1995.

Still a woman of intense compassion and lofty goals, she is often involved in charity fundraisers, and is a member of the Planned Giving Committee of the El Dorado Community Foundation.

Walking privately

Of course, John accompanied Normadene to the Rose Ball, and they have traveled all over the world.

Normadene’s love of art and music was encouraged by her parents, who provided piano lessons and exposed her to the love of books and the pursuit of knowledge and education.

They also exposed her to fun.

“My folks used to take me to dances. In those days, there was music that really inspired you to dance!” Normadene smiled.

As for dressing up so beautifully as a Rose candidate and member of the Rose Court, Normadene just says that she’s “glad she doesn’t have to do it everyday.”

She pointed out that women back in the day must have stayed home more. It is a laborious process to put on all the layers and button all the buttons, often taking more than two hours.

“They must have dressed more comfortably at home,” Normadene said, pointing out that 2009 Rose Roni Pettibone was smart to dress like the farm women of the day.

Walking with Roses

No one can escape Normadene’s enthusiasm.

After talking with Normadene, one feels exhausted by her busy schedule, but also determined not to miss out on the wonderful arts and music available in El Dorado County, largely due to Normadene’s efforts.

But she always has been, and always will be a wonderful representation of El Dorado County, as well as being a natural Rose. She is imbued with all the attributes and strong volunteer service required to be El Dorado Rose. There’s also a lot more that she does, quietly.

Now Carpenter is officially a 2011 Lady of the Court, an honored member of the Rose Court and a part of the Rose Garden forever.


Susana Carey Wey


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