THOMASTON – When the Thomaston Ladies Choral Club performs in their spring concert next Saturday, they’ll do it without their director.
Mary Gabriele, 59, of Terryville, directed the group for seven years before was killed in a car crash on Wednesday in Waterbury. A man who is believed to have been high on cocaine crossed the center line and hit her head on. Both died.
Several members heard the news for the first time during their weekly rehearsal Thursday night.
“I walked in with a box of tissues. I put it on the piano bench and I said, ‘Ok. Now we have to talk,’” said Lisa Lizotte, President of the Thomaston Ladies Choral Club. “It’s not just a group of women that get together and sing. We’re like a family, so we lost a family member.”
Members of the club say they’ll remember Mary Gabriele for the humor she brought to her job, even though she was tough. She once called herself "The Dictator" instead of "director" and the nickname stuck.
Members also told stories of her bringing chicken soup to ladies who were sick, and bringing a small fan for the accompanist who sometimes got warm during long rehearsals.
“She was so sarcastic, witty, funny and so loveable,” said Danielle Balducci, the incoming vice-president of the club.
They had been practicing with Mary Gabriele since January for their upcoming concert, and the show will go on.
“We still have to have our concert. Mary would just kick our butts if we didn’t,” said Lizotte.
They plan to dedicate their performance to her when they hit the Thomaston Opera House stage on Saturday, May 7 at 7 p.m.
Balducci said, “We will have a moment of silence, we’re going to speak a little about her and try to honor her best we can.”