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Ardys Mae Carter Walrath

NORTH CANAAN — Ardys Mae Walrath of North Canaan, died on January 4, 2022, at Noble Horizons.  She was 100 years old.  Born on September 5, 1921, in South Haven, Michigan, Ardys was the first daughter of Alvah H. Carter and Edith RomansCarter.

The Carters eventually settled in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where Ardys began taking piano lessons at the age of 7. She studied throughout her school years working at a drug store in Cedar Falls earning money to take piano lessons with Dr. Louis Crowder, who then taught at Iowa State Teachers College (now University of Northern Iowa). Her father traveled extensively during Ardys’ childhood for work, often taking her with him. She credits these experiences with instilling in her a love of travel.

In the early 1940s the Carters moved to Perry, Iowa, where Ardys met the love of her life, Ray M. Walrath. They married on July 23, 1944, while Ray was in Basic Training preparing to be deployed to Italy as navigator on a B17 bomber in WWII. Their first child, Larry Carter Walrath, was born while Ray was overseas. After the war, the young family lived in Ames, Iowa while Ray earned his college degree in chemical metallurgy. Their second child, Pamela Jo Walrath Sunderland was born in Ames. In 1954 Ray accepted a position at New England Lime Company-Nelco Metals in North Canaan, moving the family to Falls Village and, in 1956, to the house on Killawee Street in North Canaan. Their third child, Penelope Rae Walrath Cole, was born in Connecticut.

Ardys began accompanying singing groups when she was in the eighth grade and had her first job as a church musician while in high school. She would continue both activities throughout her life. Ardys was the organist and choir director for the Falls Village Congregational and Methodist churches from 1955 to 1966, after which she became the music director for the Canaan United Methodist Church, a job from which she retired, twice. After her first retirement Ardys created an ecumenical singing group, the Harmoniques, who gave at least 2 concerts a year and sang for special occasions. Ardys also taught private piano lessons for many years.

Ardys joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa when she was twelve.  She remained active in the Methodist Church for the next 88 years, taking part in youth activities, attending church camp, and later, teaching Vacation Bible School, serving on multiple committees, singing in choirs, directing the music, becoming a lay speaker, and working tirelessly with the women’s organizations of the church.  She went to the United Methodist Women’s School of Mission several times, becoming involved in the organization on both the district and conference levels as an officer and enjoyed teaching the courses sponsored by UMW on the many different peoples, faiths, and cultures of the world.

Ardys and Ray traveled extensively across the US.  Packing up their van they would head for parts west to visit their far-flung family and friends as well as every National Park, National Monument, National Recreation Area, Historic Park, Memorial and Site, and Scenic Trail they could find.

Ardys lived a full life, one of much love, laughter, faith, and discovery. When physical travel became more difficult you could always find her with a book in her hand as she traveled with authors such as Louis Lamour, Tony Hillerman, and Diana Mott Davidson. She never stopped learning and caring about her family, her friends, and this world of ours. She is survived by her daughter and husband, Penny and Ted Cole of Golden, Colorado, 10 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, and 2 great-great grandchildren.

Celebration of Life service to be held July 9, at 11 a.m. at the Canaan United Methodist Church, Canaan. Reception following at the family home.

Donations may be made in her name to UMCOR-Global Ministries or to the National Park Foundation.

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