‘Miss Guadnola’ remembered by past students and community | PostIndependent.com

‘Miss Guadnola’ remembered by past students and community

Patsy Guadnola shows off another of her passions, her rose bushes, at her home in Glenwood Springs.
Lorie Courier |

Congressional Record 105th Congress

1997 Tribute to Patsy Guadnola (by then-U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis)

Her name is Patsy Guadnola and she taught music in Glenwood Springs for over 51 years. She was such a knowledgeable and patient teacher that she even taught music to me. Ms. Guadnola is the type of individual that we could all learn from, as she has given so much of herself to the people.

Ms. Guadnola is the youngest of 10 brothers and sisters who were Italian immigrants. ...

Her love of music, children and family has been the constant that has rooted her so deeply in the community. When she was just a child, her brothers and sisters contributed money so that she might take piano lessons. When she was 12, she began playing the organ on Sundays at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, a commitment she continues to this day.

Following Ms. Guadnola’s graduation from the University of Northern Colorado and the Julliard School of Music, she returned home and began work as the music teacher at the Glenwood public schools for grades 1 to 12. She taught in the very same room where she discovered her own desire to one day become a music teacher herself.

For 40 years Ms. Guadnola taught music in the elementary and high school. Following her retirement from the public school, Ms. Guadnola went on to teach music for 11 more years at St. Stephen’s Catholic School.

With a career spanning 51 years, Ms. Guadnola has enjoyed watching many locals grow from children to adults.

Ms. Guadnola’s legacy lives around her in the people she has taught and continues to see. In her former students she sees a little bit of herself living on especially in those who have gone on to a career in music or teaching.

Mr. Speaker, it is people like Patsy Guadnola who make the Western Slope of Colorado the wonderful place it is. She is truly an inspiration to us all, and as one who learned so much from her myself, I can say she will always be greatly appreciated for what she has done.

Patsy Guadnola’s former Glenwood Springs grade school music students will often recall the “individual singing” exercise she would have them do every six weeks.

“It’s how we were graded,” said Bob Zanella, a little of that nervous feeling creeping back as he remembered how, after having just moved to Glenwood Springs and starting first grade, “Miss Guadnola” would write song words on the blackboard and ask the students to memorize them so they could be prepared to sing a solo in front of the class.

That was 1944, “and I’ve known her ever since,” Zanella said. “All the way through elementary school and into high school choir, she was our music teacher. She would try to stay in touch with all the kids, from year one until she retired.”

Five decades worth of students and a community she called home from birth are remembering Guadnola this week as a beloved teacher who devoted a lifetime to her passion for music. She died March 4 at age 92. Her obituary appeared Tuesday in the Post Independent.

Guadnola was born on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1923, at the family home on Colorado Avenue, the youngest of 10 children. It was a fitting birthday, as her other devotion in life was her Catholic faith.

In addition to teaching in Glenwood Springs public schools from 1945 until 1985, she taught music for 11 years at St. Stephen’s Catholic School and for 72 years played music, including organ, at the regular Mass for St. Stephen’s Church.

As a Julliard-trained musician herself, Guadnola would go on to earn her master’s degree in music education from Colorado State College of Education (University of Northern Colorado) in 1953.

She was honored over the years by organizations ranging from the Colorado American Choral Directors’ Association to the Aspen Music Festival, and was the 2008 recipient of the Archdiocesan Music Award.

Among those she influenced was another, more recent longtime Glenwood Springs music teacher and choral director, Lorie Beattie Courier.

“One of my favorite stories was when we were in the old Glenwood Springs High School, where we had these beautiful windows in the choir room,” said Courier, who graduated high school in 1967.

“We were singing a Christmas song, ‘Still, Still, Still’ with the words ‘one can hear the falling snow,’ and as we were singing it started to snow outside,” she said. “It was just one of those magical moments I will never forget.”

Courier learned to play piano from Guadnola, and has been a successful musician and music teacher in her own right.

“Patsy Guadnola changed the lives of every person she met,” Courier wrote in tribute on her Facebook page. “Her compassion, love, faith and joyful spirit illuminated every room, every heart, every soul and every song. … I thank you for your inspiration, knowledge of music, mentorship, encouragement and example.”

Another former student of Guadnola’s who would go on to be elected to Congress paid tribute to her before his fellow congressional members in 1997.

“Ms. Guadnola’s legacy lives around her in the people she has taught and continues to see,” former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, now a Mesa County commissioner, wrote in that tribute (see sidebox).

“In her former students she sees a little bit of herself living on especially in those who have gone on to a career in music or teaching,” McInnis said.

Floyd and Lavonne Diemoz also had Guadnola as a music teacher. In fact, she played matchmaker.

“She was the one who got Floyd and I together, and we remained very good friends with her for all those years after school,” Lavonne Diemoz said. “Just so many memories of glee club with her, and directing our sextets. She will be missed.”

A Rosary is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, followed by a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Friday and burial at Rosebud Cemetery.

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