Singing in senior’s heart

MARIETTA – Since she was little, music has been a passion for Pat Carte’, a passion she has shared with the O’Neill Senior Singers for the last decade.

After Carte’ came home from being in a children’s hospital for four years, battling tuberculosis of the hip, her father, a music teacher, soon got her involved in singing.

“When I got home (at age 6) Dad started me into music,” she said. “I’ve been singing all my life. I married into a singing family and we traveled all over the U.S.”

Carte’ has been a director for church choirs and performed at funerals, family reunions and organization dinners, but it is her work with the Senior Singers that has gotten her the recognition as a Gem of the Valley.

Carte’, director of the Singers, said the group goes to nursing homes and assisted living facilities around the area. She loves encouraging the seniors there to sing with the group.

“I love singing,” she said. “My dad instilled that in me. I love gospel music best because that’s what he sang. I encourage (the seniors) to sing with us; that’s why we do so many old songs – because they know them.”

Connie Huntsman, director of the O’Neill Center in Marietta, said the group spreads cheer through music.

“They’re just spreading joy throughout the community, especially residents in long term care,” said Huntsman. “They bring back songs (the residents) relate to.”

The group’s assistant director, Anna Lee Piatt, said Carte’ has been an asset to the group.

“Despite her handicaps she’s had her whole life, she’s an inspiration,” she said. “It’s just a joy to work with her.”

Carte’ said the group is always looking for volunteers, and that she is the contact.

“I need help all the time getting people in,” she said. “The Bible says, ‘Make joyful noise.’ You don’t have to be a great singer, but you have to have the dedication.”

Huntsman said Carte’ in particular enjoys being around the residents.

“Pat has a great heart and she enjoys being around people,” she said.

She said Carte’ does a great job of supplying songs and coordinating with each singer.

“She does a great job of working with the group to blend their sound,” she said.

Carte’ said she’s surprised to be recognized for the Gem of the Valley.

“That’s very pleasant and surprising,” she said. “I think it’s an honor. (The Senior Singers) is a good work and I’m very proud to support it.”

Huntsman said the group is unique to the area, with a unique message.

“The fact that (residents) do relate to that music, music has a way of bringing out special memories in our lives,” Huntsman said. “What they’re doing is special work.”

Similarly, Carte’ said the work they do is enjoyable for the seniors, but holds a special place in her heart.

“I really enjoy it,” she said. “Music is my world. About all I do is connected to music in one way or another. It’s a great work and I love to sing, and it lifts me up.”