Gettysburg Connection regularly presents its Outstanding Community Contributor award to community members who have who made outstanding contributions to the people of Adams County. Click here to see all the awardees. Please contact us if you know someone deserving of this award.

Norm and Carolyn Nunamaker win Gettysburg Connection Outstanding Community Contributor Award

Norm and Carolyn Nunamaker, who have spent the past 25 years building and leading the Gettysburg Chamber Orchestra (GCO), have won Gettysburg Connection’s Outstanding Community Contributor Award.

The couple’s last concert as orchestra directors will take place at the Lutheran Seminary Chapel at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, featuring works by Antonin Dvorak. The guest soloist will be Gettysburg native and internationally-known cellist Colin Stokes. The concert is the ensemble’s 50th performance.

carolyn george nunamaker

Norm has had a long career in music as a Professor of Music at Gettysburg College, a violinist in the York Symphony Orchestra, and in his “retirement” as conductor of the GCO.

Carolyn taught middle school math and served as a school principal for more than 30 years before co-founding the GCO with Norm in 1998.

“Norm was a colleague of my father’s,” said Gettysburg resident and long-time GCO member Megan Weikel. “I started viola lessons with him in 6th grade.”

Weikel said Norm was inspiring as a teacher and enjoyed bringing musicians with different skill levels and backgrounds together. “Norm had a great ability to meld the generations.  As youngsters we played with college students and with adults,” said Weikel. 

“He taught me how to listen, and that became how I answer the world in general,” she said.

“I don’t think the chamber orchestra would have happened without Carolyn,” said Weikel.  “Norm was moved by the arts and Carolyn made sure the art kept happening.”

“Norm’s contribution is very significant for young musicians from Gettysburg,” said Gettysburg resident Harry Stokes. “People don’t realize how difficult it is to be a performing musician. He gave them confidence.”

Stokes said Norm’s work had been a driving force behind the success of his son Colin. “Having the continuing connection to him has meant a lot to Colin,” he said.

Stokes said Carolyn was a driving force in the GCO. “It’s been a team effort. She’s been the Chief Financial Officer and the ‘clerk of the works,’ leading fundraising, finance, staging, organization, and public relations.

Stokes noted that the couple had shared a single email address for many years.

The Nunamakers were sweethearts in high school and married when they graduated from college in 1959. They came to Gettysburg in 1963 after Norm finished his music studies at the University of Indiana. “We thought we’d be here a year or two,” Norm chuckled, “but we never left.”

Asked about being a two-time pioneer – a woman teaching math and entering administration, Carolyn observed, “they didn’t know what to do with [two women in an administrator course], but we kept showing up and doing the work.”

Norm and Carolyn both retired from full-time employment in 1996. They had a bit of a “so what do we do now?” letdown when they returned from a long sailboat journey. Many of their friends agreed with Norm’s vision of a year-round professional orchestra and they wrote a “We have a dream” letter to their friends, acquaintances, and neighbors. The letter yielded strong support.

With initial funds in hand, next came the job of assembling the orchestra. Since the beginning, the Nunamakers have tried to maintain a local flavor in the permanent members and guest performers. “We’ve done 50 concerts and in 39 cases the soloist had a local connection,” said Norm.

Local residents have accounted for as much as half the orchestra personnel, though musicians are also drawn from York, Harrisburg, and other nearby communities. “I keep a list of available substitutes and of people I might want to work with – and don’t want to work with – in case there’s a vacancy,” said Norm.

The Nunamakers were always aware that transitioning to new leadership would be one of their biggest challenges. “About seven or eight years ago, we started building an endowment,” said Norm. “The orchestra is in solid financial shape. I thank the work of Music Gettysburg! for their help over the years.”

The orchestra’s baton has been handed to Gettysburg resident and Gettysburg College graduate Ryan Kozak. Kozak conducts the “Concert Strings” ensemble with the Frederick, MD Regional Youth Orchestra, and is a member of the popular local 19th century music group, “Dearest Home.” Kozak’s wife Kate Guy will also be involved in the GCO.

“We’re keeping it local,” said Norm.

The Nunamakers plan to relax, do some day trips, and pursue interests including bridge, cooking, and continuing involvement with the non-profit organizations  Gettysburg DFA and the Adams County Land Conservancy.

Charles (Chuck) Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Owner, Publisher, and Editor in Chief. I would like to hear from you. Please contact me at cstangor@gettysburgconnection.org.

Leon Reed, freelance reporter, is a former US Senate staff member, defense consultant, and history teacher. He is a seven year resident of Gettysburg, where he writes military history and explores the park and the Adams County countryside. He is the publisher at Little Falls Books, chaired the Adams County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee and is on the board of SCCAP and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. He and his wife, Lois, have 3 children, 3 cats, and 5 grandchildren.

 

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x