Bobbi Dowell, founder of the Singing Seniors and musical director for each of the nine Senior Follies productions is leaving Carson City to move closer to family in Odessa, Texas.
"I am sorry I have to leave, but feel it's necessary for me and the family," Dowell said.
Before she leaves, the Carson City Senior Citizens Center is holding a farewell gathering for Dowell from 4-6 p.m. Thursday at the center, 911 Beverly Drive. Friends are welcome to stop and say goodbye.
Dowell has lived in Carson City (the second time around) since 1990. She lived here from 1978 to 1984 when her daughter was still in school.
The Singing Seniors began 14 years ago after Dowell played piano as background music for the seniors' Christmas party. Many of those attending began singing so Dowell said, "Let's start a group."
In the first year there were seven members. This year, she has 30 on the roster.
"They (seniors) give so much of their time, and it's all volunteer time," she said.
Dowell is moving to be near her sister and brother-in-law, Lindal and Rayburn Burgess. She welcomes friends to write her after her move on Aug. 10. Her new address is: Bobbi Dowell, 5314 Hannah Drive, Odessa, Texas, 79762.
"My sister is already lining up activities for me to do, and people to meet - like the local theater director. And for performing, there's always churches."
Dowell has shared piano and organ duties at St. John's Episcopal Church and at Camp Galilee at Lake Tahoe. She has been the director of the First United Methodist Church Handbell Choir for nearly eight years.
"What I will miss most about the senior center, number one, are all my singers, definitely. And the friends I've made with those on staff as well as other volunteers and those who come for lunch. Seeing their faces and getting hugs, and giving hugs."
She will also miss working with T.J. Gioia, who directed most of the Follies productions.
"I think the 'Best of the West' (follies) was one of the most memorable," Dowell said. "And 'Broadway Memories.' That was two years ago - the last time T.J. directed."
"I think it's a tragedy (she's leaving), but I understand her feelings," said Gioia. "She needs to be with her sister.
"I'm really going to miss her. This is a big loss for the community. Not only for the follies, but the churches and the handbell choir."
Dowell has made many friends in the community. Singing and performing on the piano are where her heart is.
"My favorite memories from any follies show are with the singers, period. Seeing new people join and making new friends. Seeing them leave each week and smiling, that was the reward. It kept me young."
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