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Demmie & Jep Carrell



Although Demmie and Jep didn't move to Kendal until April 1995, they were a part of Kendal “before there was dirt.” Jep was one of the five people who attended the initial group meeting in March 1987, and together they hosted many events that helped move us through the evolutionary process to become Kendal at Oberlin. That evolution went through various stages thanks to many idealistic and committed people. Jep helped keep them together since he realized the realities they would face. His Quaker approach and emphasis on reaching consensus were key, as were his professional skills developed through work at Swarthmore College, his subsequent Marines experience, and work with the Nord Family Foundation. He then served as Kendal at Oberlin’s board chair for 4½ years. A special feature of the Kendal approach is that they find the people and help them to organize themselves into communities, whereas others start building and then find people.


It was a high point for Demmie, Canadian by birth, when Jep retired and they were free to travel. They were in New Zealand when Kendal had its groundbreaking. Just before leaving for New Zealand, Jep looked out and said they should consider the ease of moving across town instead of to a Kendal site back in Pennsylvania. They eventually sold their house to the college so they could move to Kendal at Oberlin. They never regretted the decision, and happily they already knew folks here. The Oberlin culture is definitely more friendly and Midwestern – just what they wanted. Jep enjoyed living here until his death in late 2007.


For the Kendal Quilt, credit must go to Michele Tarsitano-Amato and Frieda Gabalac. Everyone was very busy, but Michele gave out pieces and Frieda assembled the quilt. Demmie decided that it needed to have pieces to represent the ground breaking, the first five households to move in, and opening day. Finally people got into the act. Each piece has a story that can be checked out in the accompanying book.


Music and reading have been important components of Demmie's life, both for leisure enjoyment and helping others – like her work with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and recruiting volunteer aides for Dayton’s inner city schools. At Kendal, Demmie serves on the ombudsman committee as an observer to spot individual needs. If one is worried, she says, do something about it. The Sunday brunch group is great at supporting each other. The key is to listen and support.


Demmie has also enjoyed traveling to Asia, New Zealand, and Australia, and places closer to home, like Phoenix, Seattle, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where her three children and seven grandchildren live.


Her philosophy is clear. Commitment is important: Demmie hopes new residents learn to value all that has gone before and commit to building a strong future. Simplicity is important: when things get too elaborate, we tend to forget Quaker values. Patience is important: we can't know all. Process is important: some feel frustrated, but gradually folks come together. Laughter makes a happy place. It is up to us.


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