Memories of Mrs. Annabelle Cothren

Thursday, December 31st, 2009
AnnabelleCothren.jpgProvidence seems to bring surprises at the most unexpected times.  On Wednesday, December 30, my daughters and I arrived in Modesto to visit my family for the New Year's weekend.  Upon my arrival, my sister handed me the local newspaper, folded open to the obituary page.  It seems my high school choir director had lived her last years not too terribly far from Modesto, and had just passed into Glory.  Her funeral was to be held the following day at the local cemetery.  

My dad passed away in 1996, and it meant the world to me that people I had never met came forward to share their good experiences and memories of my father.  They either did so by showing up at my mom's door, or by attending his service.  After that experience, I realized that I wanted the families of those I know who died,  always to know how special their loved one was to me.  If I could not attend the service, I would try to send a card with a special story.  So, it didn't take but a minute to decide to attend Mrs. Cothren's funeral.

Mrs. Cothren had no children, but was lovingly tended to by her nieces and nephews.  Their admiration for her was tremendous.  I was greeted by her family members and welcomed warmly into the group.  Her passing had only been advertised in the local paper prior to her service, so I was the only former student there.  I know my presence represented dozens and dozens of students who pay their respects to this delightful woman.

I was blessed to have Mrs. Cothren as my choir director for two years at North Salinas High School.  My freshman year (1974-1975) was spent in her Girls' Glee Club, and during my sophomore year I was in her Mixed Chorus.  At the end of the year, before her retirement, she advanced me to the Chorale Ensemble, which I would attend during my junior and senior years.

What did I learn from Mrs. Cothren?  Well, first and foremost, how to spell T - S - C - H - A - I - K - O -W -S - K - Y!   She treasured the great composers, and wanted to make sure we could identify them.  She turned the spelling of Tschaikowsy's name into a little sing-song, so we could remember it.  She introduced me to Jester Harriston's gospel music, which we had the great blessing to sing with the composer himself.  She made sure we knew the school hymn and fight song.

Mrs. Cothren was a physically beautiful woman - I learned at her funeral that she had been homecoming queen.  While I admired her poise and femininity as a student, I admired character after attending her funeral.  

I wasn't aware of her devotion to our Lord and to her family.  After her first husband died, she returned to her hometown in Kansas.  Each Christmas, she participated in a local college's performance of Handel's "Messiah."   Since the text of the "Messiah" is taken from the book of Isaiah, it was quite fitting that the pastor (her nephew) based her memorial message on this book.   She truly loved the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Mrs. Cothren,  I haven't seen you in the 32 years since you retired from North Salinas High School, but I am thrilled to know that I will be seeing you again.  

ANNABELLE R. COTHREN APR 19, 1918 - DEC 27, 2009
Annabelle Cothren passed away into the presence of the Lord on Sunday, December 27 in Madera, California at the age of 91. She had resided in Fresno, then Madera for the past 10 years where she was attended to by her niece, Sarah Brannon. Annabelle was born on April 19, 1918 near Larned, Kansas. She was the first of four children born to Ira and Helen Raymer who were farmers. At a young age, she demonstrated great interest in music. Her mother purchased a piano for her 10th birthday, earning the money through the sale of chicken eggs. Annabelle rewarded her mom with a lifetime of commitment to piano and choral music. In 1936, Annabelle graduated from Zook High School near Larned, and then continued her education at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas where she majored in music. Prior to her graduation from Bethany in 1940, she was chosen Homecoming Queen during her senior year. In the early 40's, she moved to California to be near other family members, and resided in the town of Waterford. Here she began her teaching career that would ultimately lead her to Salinas where she taught choral music for many years at North Salinas High School. It was during this time that she led a high school choir ensemble to Washington, D.C. in 1970, this being one of the highlights of her career. Annabelle married Paul Cothren, who was head instructor of auto mechanics at Hartnell College, in Salinas. He passed away in 1983. Seven years later, she married Paul Peterson of Linsborg, Kansas and became a resident of her old college town until the passing of Mr. Peterson in 1999. It was at this time that her niece, Sarah Brannon, helped her re-locate to Fresno, California where she lived at Carrington Pointe assisted living until her move to Madera in 2006 where she was a resident at County Villa until her passing into Glory. In addition to her musical career, Annabelle enjoyed being a member of P.E.O. She was a member of the Presbyterian Church of Salinas for many years prior to her move to Lindsborg, Kansas in the 90's. She also enjoyed traveling and took trips to Japan, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Israel, and Egypt. Annabelle is survived by her niece, Sarah Brannon and her family of Madera, CA; niece, Marsha Quesnel and family of Nebraska and Washington; brother and sister-in-law, Marshall and Ellen Lewis of Empire, CA; stepdaughters Linnea Clinton and Mary Ann Johnston of Salinas, CA; and many other nieces and nephews. A viewing will be held Thursday, Dec. 31 between 12 noon and 1 p.m. at Lakewood Funeral Home in Hughson, California, located at 900 Santa Fe Avenue, 209-883-0411. A chapel service will follow at 1 p.m. Remembrances may be sent to The Gideons International, a mission's organization which Annabelle supported.

Discussion/Comments (4):

Memories of Mrs. Annabelle Cothren

I was a student of Mrs. Cothren's at North High all four years, graduating in 1972. I had always loved to sing, but did not do so in a group until high school. She brought out the very best voice in me and had me singing in Choral Ensemble by the middle of my sophomore year. She chose me to sing in a quartet at graduation. I also got the guts to sing a solo at our baccalaurate because of her. I absolutely adored her and thank her for my musical and singing knowledge (from the diaphragm!!). I'll always be grateful to her and still sing in church choirs to this day. Thank you for your tribute to such a wonderful lady. Welcome home, Mrs. Cothren.

Posted at 4/9/2010 12:36:22 PM byArta Mason

Memories of Mrs. Annabelle Cothren

Annabelle Raymer Cothren was my AUNT.

I remember when i was a small child,sitting at my Grandmothers dinning room table with a cup of hot tea in front of me and my Aunt came over to me and added some milk to my sugared tea and explained that this was the way the people from England drank theirs! Wow,my first history lesson at the age of 3.

Those memories always flood me whenever I have the Brittish Style Tea.

My Aunt was a tall beautiful woman with red hair. Oh.was it pretty. I remember when she picked us up at the airport in a Pink real it was pink! I really thought she was one classy lady.

I loved the trips to California because she would always make sure we saw everything there was to see,Carmel,Monterey,San Franscico, and of course China Town, with the scary winding trip down Lombard Street in a big Whie Cadilac no less.

I lost track of her after my Father passed away in 1983 and have always thought of her. I did the Google Thing and this is what I found. May she Rest In Peace.

Posted at 7/18/2011 4:01:01 AM byCYNTHIA RAYMER FREDERICH

Memories of Mrs. Annabelle Cothren

I recall the wonderful years (1969-1973) I spend in Mrs. Cothrens mixed choir and ensemble. She was a gifted teacher with the exceptional ability to bring out the best in young voices. It always amazed me that she could manage to control up to seventy high schoolers and shape them into a group that would offer Handles Messiah to Christmas audiences.

I have to smile when I think of how kind and thoughtful she was on a personal level. Occasionally, we would get to see the very loving and passionate soul that was behind the force making us better ourselves on a daily basis. I recall a few tears in her eyes when our Coral Ensemble would have a few moments when our sound, our music, the music that SHE taught us how to sing, would have a sound like no other, wonderful and inspirational. At those moments, I would think of all the time she had taken to build our confidence, to teach us to push our voices, bring depth… and yes, Arta…. “Sing from the diaphragm”. She gave us confidence. She gave us something that will last all of our lives….. A joy and passion to add our voices and sing gloriously.

Posted at 12/4/2012 1:23:16 PM byDave Gubser

Memories of Mrs. Annabelle Cothren

I have such fond memories of Miss Annabelle Raymer Cothren since 1957. She was my Glee Club teacher at Washington Junior High School, and on to North Salinas High. I moved from Salinas in 1961, so I lost touch with her. My new school's glee club was such a disappointment(without Miss Raymer), I changed the class for another. Since joining FB, I have re-united with many old school chums. I'm sorry that I was not able to make a connection before her passing. She was truly a remarkable woman and will be sorely missed !!!

Posted at 10/26/2013 12:40:31 PM byJan (Shultz) Harlan

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