Music filled the final hours of Carrie Engelbrecht’s life.
Her husband, John, their three daughters and son-in-law, Vic, sang hymns and lullabies, the same ones the Bay Village music teacher used to sing to her children as they were growing up.
Engelbrecht brought music into the lives of thousands of children and adults. She taught music at Westerly Elemen\tary for the past 22 years and also directed the Children's Choirs at Bay Presbyterian Church for a little more than five years.
Engelbrecht, 64, died at home early July 6 after a long battle with cancer, according to information from Bay Presbyterian Church, where she was a longtime member.
Engelbrecht leaves a legacy of music education that includes singing, playing instruments, performing in different venues and writing original music.
"Carrie loved teaching music, and taught and directed thousands of kids in Bay Village,” said Elaine Dwyer, who taught music with Engelbrecht at Westerly for the last 10 years and also assisted at Bay Presbyterian. “She was one of a kind. She had an enthusiasm for life, an infectious spirit and laugh, a passion for kids and music, and touched the hearts of everyone she met. I will greatly miss my dear friend and teaching partner, but her legacy will live on through the music that we make."
A native of Orange, California, Engelbrecht began teaching at Westerly Elementary in January, 1997. Due to her illness, she left near the end of this past school year, according to information from the school.
She played a role in the national recognition the Bay Village City School District received for its music program. The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation named Bay Village as one of the Best Music Education Communities for 16 straight years.
"Carrie touched the lives of so many children over the years,” Westerly Principal Josie Sanfilippo said. “Her creativity and musical talent was evident through the amazing performances she led each year. Her dedication, passion and love for teaching will forever be remembered. There will be a definite void in our hearts."
A tribute linked to the Bay Village Schools Facebook page said Engelbrecht's expectations and guidance gave children a foundation suitable to take them in any musical direction. She let them explore different types of music from a variety of cultures. She opened doors to possibilities by exposing them to visiting artists and performances beyond the school walls.
The Bay Village Education Foundation awarded her a grant that she used to bring in a visiting artist who helped students write lyrics and music, and then to perform, for the inaugural Westerly Song performance.
Mostly due to her efforts, Westerly students were able to join other area elementary vocalists as part of the Oberlin Choristers Honor Choir. They rehearsed after school with the other singers before performing at Finney Chapel on the Oberlin College campus. “This was an amazing choral experience for students so young,” according to a statement issued by the Bay Village schools.
She is survived by her husband and three daughters, Kelley, Kathryn “Katie” Simbru (Vic), and Julia.
Her oldest daughter, Kelley, wrote on Facebook, "To know her was to know love and laughter. To be her daughter was to be blessed beyond measure."
Calling hours will be 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. July 25 at the Busch Funeral Home, 163 Avon-Belden Road, Avon Lake.
Services will be at 11 a.m. July 26 at Bay Presbyterian Church, 25415 Lake Road, Bay Village. The Rev. Mark Tumney will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, contributions or donations in Engelbrecht’s memory can be made to Bay Presbyterian Church or the Bay Village Education Foundation, P.O. Box 40262, Bay Village, Ohio 44140.
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