Jeannie Book, one of Carmel’s greatest citizens, and my dear, dear friend, passed away on Feb. 17. She was one of the founders of the Carmel Symphony Orchestra and devoted her life to it. Unfortunately, she had a car accident that injured her that she could not overcome. As I sat next to her hospital bed holding her hand, I remembered how our friendship began.
I had moved here from South Bend where I was very involved with their symphony orchestra, and I wondered if there was an orchestra here. I was lucky, I found out there was, called their number and Jeannie answered the telephone. She invited me to their next meeting, and I was soon asked to join the board of directors. It was there our friendship was formed and we became a team.
During those years, the orchestra was rehearsing in a church, school or wherever we could find a room to rehearse or have a concert. Jeannie and I worked together with others in planning events and working to make the Symphony League the group to be in when someone new moved to Carmel. We did everything we could to make the symphony more than just a community orchestra. It even came down to passing the hat at the end of the board meetings to make sure we had enough money to keep the orchestra going.
She was loved by the orchestra, especially on concert days, when she provided food and drink during their break. She drove a station wagon filled to the brim of what she wanted served on that day, and in she’d come, issuing orders as she came. She was in charge and everyone knew it, but even though we knew we had a job ahead of us, everyone who worked with her had a good time.
She was the type of friend who knew she could come visit whenever she wanted, and often she would arrive at our home, basket of goodies in tow. She reminded me every time she came if we didn’t eat what she brought to put it in our freezer until the next concert so she could feed the orchestra. We even stood in the lobby at Carmel High School, where the orchestra would be playing, to pass out goodies to those who attended the concerts. It was like the wild west, with Jeannie at the helm, making sure that there was always a next time for the orchestra.
Jeannie was also involved in the Assistance League and other groups, but it was the Carmel Symphony Orchestra to which she was devoted. She will be missed, and there are not enough words to describe our friendship. She was wonderful with a huge heart for everyone and I will miss her every day, just expecting her to pop up.
Mary Eckard, Carmel