story & photo
by Maren Schober
Nelson Grenier will always be remembered at Norwich Free Academy for his love of music and his untiring and dedicated activities for the NFA Band Boosters Club. His family remembers a very loving and committed husband and father.
On April 16th, 11 years agon, Nelson’s life suddenly and tragically ended. “We lived in Voluntown at the time and Nelson was walking home after leaving his car off for repairs,” his wife Dianne tells me. “It was a beautiful sunny day. Nelson was struck and killed instantly by an automobile.”
During the four years that Nelson and Dianne’s son Adam played in the concert band, jazz band and marching band at Norwich Free Academy, Nelson was very active with the NFA Wild Cat Band Boosters. “Nelson served on numerous committees,” Dianne explains. “He also volunteered to sell tickets, chaperone and act as security at band concerts. He was always there whether it be an in state or out of state performance to provide moral support to the band kids. Nelson took special pride in being a member of the Pit Crew. He would load equipment, haul instruments, and make sure everything was set up in time for competitions. He wore his Pit Crew jacket with pride. Many a night he’d talk about how much fun he had with his Pit Crew friends.”
NFA staff, students, and friends in the Booster Club wanted to do something special in his memory. What could they do to honor this wonderful loving husband, father and friend? Matthew Aubin of NFA suggested having a musical piece commissioned for Nelson. Everyone liked this idea. This idea required a lot of fundraising over the next ten years. Patricia Marino of NFA was just one of the many who dedicated so much time in this effort. NFA building replicas were made and sold. The result? Mr. Carl Holmquist, a composer, band conductor and music teacher in Arlington, VA, was commissioned to compose an original musical piece which he did under the title of “A Place To Harbor His Dreams.”
This musical tribute to Nelson Grenier was performed for the first time ever at the band concert on April 6th in the auditorium at NFA. The whole event was planned by Martha Healy. Dianne Grenier was present along with her three children, Michelle, David and Adam, and their spouses and children. The auditorium was filled with family and friends! NFA band director Thomas Gourgault conducted the Jazz Band, Orchestra and Concert Band. Carl Holmquist himself directed his newly composed piece which brought a standing ovation amid tears of appreciation.
“Though I never had the opportunity to know Nelson Grenier, through correspondence with his wife and children, I was given a window into this remarkable human being, a loving father and husband, and a life long lover of music,” Carl reflects.
“It is such a wonderful tribute to my dad to have a music piece composed in his honor and memory,” Michelle states. “My dad played the guitar his whole life. He would be very touched by the amazing amount of thoughtfulness, work and love that went into this.”
“Anyone who knew my father remembers him as a devoted family man,” affirms David “It’s very touching that such a humble man is still remembered and celebrated in the community.”
“Music will always play a bonding role within our family and this dedicated piece will only strengthen that close connection,” Adam comments.
Everyone agrees this memorable night will long be remembered and treasured.