Redwood Falls Gazette
  • HOF inductee Carolyn Laufenburger takes on many roles

  • From an early age growing up in North Redwood, Carolyn Laufenburger was exposed to music; at one time her mother even played the organ for the town’s silent movies....
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  • From an early age growing up in North Redwood, Carolyn Laufenburger was exposed to music. Her parents, Oscar and Alma Simondet, were musical, and that love of music was passed on to the next generation.“My mom played the piano for just about every function in town,” said Laufenburger, adding at one time she even played the organ for the town’s silent movies.So, When Laufenburger was old enough to reach the piano, she started learning to play, and she has been playing since.“I started taking piano lessons form Mrs. (Avis) Marsh when I was five,” she said. “I remember I started playing at school functions when I was in the fifth grade.” In addition to piano, Laufenburger played the trumpet in school, and learned to play the organ. She also took vocal lessons from Marsh.After starting her learning in School District 69 in North Redwood, Laufenburger continued her education in Redwood Falls where she graduated in 1958.Naturally, she was very involved in music while in school, and learned under the tutelage of two music educators – Stanley Lind-berg and Abner Grender.“They were wonderful teachers,” Laufenburger said, adding she only had Lindberg for a short period of time before Mr. Grender took over the program. Grender, said Laufenburger, was a composer (he wrote the school’s Alma Mater), and he wrote several pieces Laufenburger performed.After graduating from high school, Laufenburger went on to college studying at the MacPhail School of Music as well as continuing her piano education under Robert Whitcomb at SMSU.She was awarded the equivalent of a bachelors degree in 1970 from the Minnesota Music Teachers’ Association.At an early age, Laufenburger, like most musicians, had a dream of performing, and at one time auditioned with the Metro-politan Opera. She was just 18 when she auditioned.“I didn’t win,” she said with a laugh, adding it was the encouragement of Mrs. Marsh, someone who in-spired and served as her mentor, which kept her moving in her pursuit of music.Laufenburger added, like many others who dreamed of performing, she ended up teaching music, and over the years she has provided vocal, piano and organ lessons to hundreds of students in the area. She continues to offer lessons.She has also served in some capacity over the past 50 years as an accompanist in schools, and for the past 15 has been working with the choir program in the local school district full time.As a local district graduate and staff member, Laufenburger could have qualified for induction into the Hall of Fame in either of those categories, but she was nominated and is going to be inducted in the community category. That role is evident in so many of the things she has done over the years from serving for nine years on the Redwood Falls Hospital commission (she was the first woman to ever serve on that board) to serving for the past 20-plus years on the cemetery association. Laufenburger said she has probably played at more than 5,000 worship services, 500 funerals and 200-300 weddings.Laufenburger admitted she was stunned and surprised when she was told she had been selected for induction to the Redwood Valley Hall of Fame.“It really is an overwhelming feeling,” she said.Laufenburger has served the community in many ways and has consistently done it while she helps others grow musically speaking.
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