A TRIBUTE TO CORINNE PIERPOINT TOWNSEND

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When Queen Elizabeth II passed away, Corinne asked me what I thought of her.  I said “Any Princess that repaired motor vehicles for her country in WW2 was okay in my book.”  Corinne reminded me that during WW2, when she came home from high school, she would go down to the basement and stamp out metal parts for the U.S. military forces.  Corinne was my Princess.

  Most Wolcott residents will remember her as the founder, owner and principal of the Wolcott Dance Academy on Center Street.  She paid attention to the smallest details, sought perfection, and was a disciplinarian in a very tactical fashion.

  When she volunteered to teach dance lessons to a group of 200 school students alone, the principal heard this and ran down to the meeting room to cancel the class because he anticipated an unruly group, but he found everything under control.

  When I saw a Dance Recital for the first time, I thought I was at a Broadway show. She enlisted her whole family and numerous parents to present the best possible and original recital every year.  She also produced the Miss Wolcott Pageant every year, and sponsors of other pageants and the Miss Connecticut pageant would travel to Wolcott to see the shows that she produced.

   Corinne was a lifelong member of the Wolcott Chamber of Commerce, and one of the fiercest advocates for Wolcott businesses.  Shortly before we married, she said to me “If we get married, there is just one rule in our marriage.  If you need a product or service, you go to a Wolcott business first!”

   When the Wolcott Chamber of Commerce introduced an annual “Businessperson of the Year” Award, the first year’s award went to William Lyga, who has a “Wall of Fame” in the Wolcott Town Hall. Corinne received the second year’s Award, and, in my opinion, is also worthy of her own Wall of Fame in the Town Hall.

   Corinne was well-liked by the business owners in Wolcott.  I remember when we walked into the dry cleaners, the owner saw her and rushed out from behind the counter, pushing aside a State Trooper picking up his shirts, and said “Excuse me, I have to talk to Mrs. Townsend.”  His important message was “Mariano Rivera really stunk up Yankee Stadium last night, didn’t he?”

   She organized the Wolcott Chamber of Commerce dinner every year, doing all the pre-dinner tasks.  One year, a former Mayor volunteered to help her.  She said he could go to the catering facility and reserve the desired day, and set the price for the meals.  She warned him that the facility had been trying to raise the price for several years, but she had kept it at $40 per person.

   Later that day, Corinne answered the phone, listened, and slammed down the phone (for the only time she did it in our marriage), saying “Men!  You can’t trust them to do anything!”  The catering facility raised the meal price from $40 to $55.

   As an aside, not once in our marriage did she come to the breakfast table without being fully dressed and groomed for the day.  If necessary, she would change clothes multipole times in the day to suit the occasion.

   She changed into her battle dress (a yellow and black dress that reminded me of Hertz rental car agents) and drove off to the catering facility.  She did not return for nearly three hours.  When I asked what happened, she said “I reminded them of everything the Chamber of Commerce does for them, everything the local businesses owners do for them, everything the people in town do for them.  The dinner price is going from $55 back down to $40.  And they will serve hot and cold hors d’oeuvres for one hour before the dinner.  Free!”

   Every time I see a well-dressed, well-groomed woman doing business in a Wolcott store, I wonder if she was influenced by Corinne as a student at the Wolcott Dance Academy.  People remember her.  They have come up to us on the streets of New York City, restaurants in Florida, an elevator in Chicago, a grocery store in Lahaina, Hawaii, and said “Are you Mrs. Pierpoint?’  Even as we stood in line for a seat at a diner on another vacation trip, a lady sitting at the counter heard her voice, spun around on her stool, and asked if she was Mrs. Pierpoint.

  I love you, Corinne.  And I will always think of you as the First Lady of Wolcott.

Your husband, Fred Townsend