|Godolphin takes magical memories into retirement
There are many people in Rohnert Park – you could call them “pioneers” these days – who bought homes in the 1960s in A section and stayed there (or upgraded to bigger homes), for the next 50 years. Like so many American families, they collected things, like old weekly newspapers, souvenir programs or scraps of important memorabilia.
Nowadays, they’re in cardboard boxes stored in garage nooks or donated to the RP Historical Society for a future museum. A lot of families have cabinets in parlors where these memories of the past have easy access, for they often get requests for information on past events, or more likely, it’s a lot of fun to browse through these nostalgic memories and update them when necessary.
Like Margot Godolphin.
She’s retired from her job as singer and director of the Rohnert Park Chorale, which has been renamed the New Rohnert Park Chorale, directed by Wayne Thush.
Of similar mind
The Godolphin family moved to RP in 1969. Her husband, the late Barry Godolphin, was a psychology professor at the then Sonoma State College.
“I remember, it was in 1983, I went to an Association for the Arts, AFTA, meeting, and a woman spoke up and said, ‘What this community needs is a choral group.’
“That was my idea, too,” Godolphin said. “I’d been thinking about it for a long while. At the time, I was directing a choral group at Waldo Rohnert Elementary School.
“I called a meeting to see how much interest in a community chorale there was, and 23 people showed up. By 1987, we had 26 singers. Nine men and 17 women.”
Godolphin likes this size for this community. It’s not unwieldy and doesn’t require a large stage. She likes the intimate size.
“We held rehearsals wherever we could – RP Junior High, Community Center, Evergreen School or wherever,” she continued. “We built up a repertoire of varied music like patriotic songs, traditional pieces, show tunes, some J.S. Bach ballads and pop songs. We performed a lot with the RP Community Band.”
They’ve performed with the Community Band at Memorial Day programs, sang at the opening of Spreckels Performing Arts Center back in 1990, Rotary Club dinners, RP Christmas Tree ceremonies, Santa Rosa Plaza and other sites. Godolphin herself is a respected soloist with Kitchen Kut-Ups Revue every year.
Singing at early age
“I’ve always loved to sing,” she added. “I remember as a 2- and 3-year old being pushed in my carriage to sing Christmas carols around the neighborhood every year. This was in the Minneapolis suburb where I grew up as little Margot Nelson. I didn’t know all the words but it was fun.
“Our family moved to California, and one of my first jobs was directing a women’s chorus in Culver City.”
In her living room in B Section, the second home they bought, Godolphin has a neatly organized box of RP Chorale programs, rosters of members dating back to the beginning days, newspaper clippings and related items.
They’re all in plastic sleeves and as she pulled early programs to examine closely, she was very careful to make sure they all went back where they belonged. It’s obvious neatness counts.
She has a son, Lionel, currently living and working in Redmond, Wash., and a daughter, Karin, who lives with her.
Carefully closing one of her boxes of chorale nostalgia, she said, “Singing has meant so much to me. It’s such a trip going through these boxes.”