WHITEFIELD -- Born Sept. 11, 1919, Evelyn Celia Steele Kittredge died Sept. 19, 2013. She followed the teachings of Jesus Christ, having lived a life that required much of her and forgave everything in others. She was our beloved matriarch.
Evelyn was born in Royalton, Vt., to William and Maude Steele. She lived her early years on the family farm. Her parents spent weekend nights playing in her father's "Steele's Orchestra," while she enjoyed the cherished company of Grammy and Grandpa Steele.
The family moved to West Springfield where she and her sister, Marie, flourished on Greenleaf Avenue as their father turned the backyard into majestic gardens of strawberries and rambling roses. Music became her passion as she became a professional pianist and soprano, singing on the radio and in various church choirs, at least one of which quietly paid its recruited singers.
Evelyn started in a music program at Smith College while attending Springfield Junior College. She continued her studies in piano, organ and voice, perfecting her lovely lyrical soprano voice. She met her future husband, Scott, shortly thereafter. Scott and "Evie," members of the greatest generation, married in the midst of World War II and she followed her new husband on the train to Jacksonville, Fla. In Jacksonville she was the elite Jacksonville Choral Society's soprano soloist in "The Messiah," earning a stellar review in the newspaper.
Evie and Scott had five beloved children, William George, Scott Lake, John Steele, Evelyn Marie and Joel Corwin. These children and husband Scott were the reason behind every decision she ever made.
Caring for the family and teaching music became her focus. Kittredge children assumed that everyone could read music because it was as natural as reading words in Evelyn's home. William "Kit" learned to sing while she accompanied him on the piano; Scott "Redge" developed a love for Bach that would anchor his adult life; John and she played piano/violin duets together; and Evelyn "Rie" spent hours in piano lessons with her and in practice. All the children today have music in their lives in some way because of Evelyn's early training and modeling.
Evelyn had an equal impact on her grandchildren. She was a driving force in their lives.
Though tiny, Evelyn was a powerhouse throughout her life. No one ever saw her tired or saw her sit down to do nothing. In fact, husband Scott would wryly suggest that Evie "run in place," if for a moment she had no task to accomplish. Evelyn spent each moment in purposeful activity, without frenzy.
At the age of 49, Evelyn decided to complete her education, though she had a full-time job and four children at home. She finished her undergraduate degree in education and then continued on to earn a master's in counseling. She taught at Chelsea School until she was 72, enriching the lives of others' children as she had done for her own. She was passionate about working with her third graders. She retired to care tirelessly and lovingly for husband Scott, as his health declined. Once Scott passed away, she served as a volunteer in the area food pantry and thrift shop, and also volunteered in the doctor's office where Scott had been a patient. Her life was dedicated to service to others.
Evelyn served as choir director and organist at many churches throughout her life. At age 87, she again felt called to serve as church pianist and choir director at the East Pittston United Methodist Church. Until age 90, she donated her time and talents, sharing her musical passion and her deep faith. Evelyn artfully selected music and once again became a music teacher. She took pleasure in the sound the choir grew to create and spent hours planning music and rehearsing, hoping to enrich the service. Her sensitive interpretations of piano arrangements were pure and truly beautiful. And at age 88, she sang in a family trio with the same powerful voice of 70 years ago.
Evelyn was predeceased by her parents, her sister, Marie, her husband of 62 years, Scott Davis, her beautiful and gifted son, William "Kit," and granddaughter Mariah. She is survived by her children Scott "Redge," John and his wife, Penny, Evelyn "Rie," and Joel and his wife, Nicolette "Niki." She is also survived by grandchildren Amanda, Leslie, Corwin and Jeremiah.
There will be a private service at the family cemetery in Springfield, Mass.
Services are under the care of Staples Funeral Home in Gardiner.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the East Pittston United Methodist Church or to a needy child in your own community.