Meikle memorial donations raise $40,000 for music programs

Former Aberdeen School District orchestra director Karen Meikle, who died last year after being diagnosed with cancer, had a rehearsal mantra: “Again. … But better!” The school orchestra program, her lasting legacy, now has funding to help it live up to her mantra.

Memorial donations from the family of Karen Meikle have been matched by the Capital Group Foundation for a total of $40,000 — $20,000 each to benefit the Aberdeen High School Orchestra program and the Grays Harbor Symphony, according William Dyer, Grays Harbor Symphony director and Aberdeen School Board vice president.

Meikle was elementary/secondary orchestra director for the district from 2007 until her death in September last year. The district credited her with revitalizing the orchestra program during that time. She was also a featured soloist and the concertmaster for the Grays Harbor Symphony.

“This will change students’ lives,” said Dyer.

“The fact that her family made this gift in her name shows the value that they have for music in this community. It reflects Karen’s dream to build a program here that would be longstanding. … She was just wonderful. She made great connections to people and the community,” Dyer said.

Her brother Bruce said in a letter to the district that the gift was made, “in loving memory of my sister and in appreciation for the warmth and home you made for her in Aberdeen.”

Although the funds haven’t been earmarked for anything specific yet, the orchestra is planning a class field trip to Seattle this spring, said new orchestra teacher Carl Johnson.

Meikle received her bachelor’s degree in music performance in 1979 from California State University at Fullerton. After playing with symphonies in Los Angeles, San Francisco and South America, Meikle returned to Fullerton to earn her K-12 teaching credential as a strings specialist. She won an award for Outstanding Achievement in Music Education in 1991 and was the university’s Student Teacher of the Year in 1992. She was also certified in the Suzuki teaching method.