STAMFORD, Vt. -- Family and friends of Nancy Carpenter gathered Friday afternoon at Stamford Community Church to mourn the loss of a friend and celebrate her life.
Carpenter, a special education teacher at Drury High School in North Adams for 25 years, died Thursday night at Albany Medical Center in New York from injuries sustained in an accident earlier in the day at the intersection of North Eagle Street and West Road in Clarksburg. She leaves two children, Ed and Jessica Horsfall.
She was remembered by those who knew her as a kind, caring and compassionate individual.
"Nancy was a wonderful person and she was everybody's friend," said Mandy Therrien, who knew Carpenter through the church's Praise and Worship Team.
Fellow team member Jennifer Jones Blair added, "She was very compassionate and caring and those things just radiated from her."
The Rev. James LaMothe, pastor of Stamford Community Church, said he and Carpenter became fast friends following his arrival at the church last May.
"I realized I won't have anyone to blow up my inbox with messages anymore," he joked during the gathering. "The night before the accident, I got a text just before midnight from her. It said: ‘Go to bed. Stop watching the Olympics.' It was as if she was intuitive."
LaMothe also spoke about Carpenter's passion during church services and told the story of how he hid a tambourine she used during a weekend service.
He stressed that Carpenter would not want those who knew her to grieve, noting that six weeks earlier she had emailed him her funeral arrangements, so someone would know her last wishes.
"I didn't open it until last night," LaMothe said. "What she has requested is very fitting of Nancy. She has instructed that there is to be no morbidity. There is to be cake and ice cream and soda at her reception. The cake is to say ‘Heaven Bound' and that is what we will do."
North Adams Schools Superintendent James E. Montepare described Carpenter's death as a loss for the whole community.
"Nancy had been a special education teacher with us since 1987," he said in a telephone interview. "She'd been one of the most compassionate, caring teachers I know. She was always doing good things and reaching out to booster clubs or to our student career center. She was looking forward to retiring shortly. It's just a huge blow for the city -- not just the school system, but for all of the children whose lives she touched. We are very saddened by the whole situation."
According to Clarksburg Police Chief Michael Williams, the operator of the second vehicle involved in the crash, Jessica Lefevre, was treated and released by North Adams Regional Hospital on Thursday.
Carpenter's passenger, whose name has not been released because he is a minor, was treated at North Adams Regional Hospital for minor injuries and was later released.
The accident remains under investigation.
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email