As we live our lives, we are encouraged to leave the world a better place, to make a change or statement, to make a difference. Ultimately, though, we often act with the hope of being remembered.
How does one forget someone who has made such an impact on her students? On her community members? On strangers? You don’t. You don’t forget.
Stefani Gosselink was an extraordinary human being. She saw the world in a way that no one else did. If you gave her a problem and told her she had the week to figure it out, she would come back to you in two days with the solution. She was diligent, organized, and persistent. Once she set her mind to something, there was no way to deter her.
Stefani contributed to the Brewster community in many ways. She taught piano lessons for over forty years, was the author of books on music history and piano methods, and she was a children’s book author. Stefani was the founder and director of Culture Camp, which thrived for fifteen years under her guidance, and she dedicated her time and efforts to create a special children’s section in the Brewster Public Library. She was not only a mentor but also an inspiration.
In November 2018, Stefani passed away after a hard-fought battle with ovarian cancer. She was a fighter until her very last breath. Refusing to let cancer get in the way of her daily life, Stefani adapted to her situation so she could continue doing what she loved. There were some bumps in the road, but she refused to let them deter her from the life she loved. She kept herself productive through her lessons, her writing, and her other hobbies.
There is truly no one like Stefani, and everyone who met her felt touched. Her optimism was contagious, and her untimely passing is still a shock.
We remember Stefani for her lessons, for her constant support, and for the shared conversations that were so valuable they would leave you a changed person. When asked how Stefani affected his life, RJ Frankenberry responded, “Stefani Gosselink was an incredible woman who taught me so much. She helped me develop a strong work ethic and figure out how to express creativity through music. Most importantly, even at her worst with her disease, she never let her optimism leave her. She wrote books, played (and taught) piano, wrote news articles, had a very important role in an arts coalition, and sent out a newsletter to all of her students while battling a horrible disease that affects too many amazing people. Through all these tough times and exhaustion, she never let her spirit flicker. She had rough days, but she remained positive, strong, and knew how to be happy and enjoy the little moments. She taught me so many lessons, but the one that really affected me and took me so long to master, was her optimism. After she passed, I really began to focus on the positives to get through the negatives like she would. It’s upsetting that it took her passing for me to finally understand how to enjoy the little things, but then again, this is just one of the many lessons she taught me.”
Another one of Stefani’s students, Beth Meola and her daughter Estella, when asked how Stefani affected them said, “I started taking piano with Mrs. Gosselink about two years ago. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but I thought it may be a good idea to learn along with my ten-year-old daughter. I had my lesson on Mondays and Estella had hers on Tuesdays, so I had the privilege of seeing Mrs. Gosselink twice a week. Mrs. Gosselink had this easy going dynamic way of teaching piano and always made it fun. I was amazed at her passion to continue teaching while going through chemotherapy treatments. Not only did I gain a new talent, but I also made a new friend. Mrs. Gosselink was an amazing, strong, talented, beautiful woman and we miss her terribly.”
Mrs. Patty Taylor – a member of the music department in Brewster High School, said this about Stefani, “I did not know Stefani very well, but after I became Coordinator, we spoke every year around NYSSMA time as I was in charge of registering all piano students. She was always so lovely to talk to – friendly, warm, engaging and it was evident she was passionate about her students and their success in going to NYSSMA. I never met or spoke to her in person, but after several phone calls we developed a friendship and would chat every year as we organized her students. I know she was loved by many and had a huge impact on her numerous students over the years.”
The Kaufman family also was deeply affected by Stefani and shared these thoughts, “She was so much more than a piano teacher. She worked with us through those times when we no longer wanted to play the piano; she taught us how to persevere even when we did not want to practice. She worked through those times with us, and we came out on the other side where we loved playing the piano…this is what made Stefani so special to us. We love hearing the beautiful music we can produce now and it is totally thanks to Stefani and the magical way she dealt with all of her students. She treated us as family and we are forever grateful to her for that. As we decorated our Christmas Tree this year, we hung all of the beautiful photo ornaments Stefani gave to us and remembered her with so much love and gratitude. She will be missed by us, and we will think of her always.“
Although Stefani is gone, she will never be forgotten. In her honor, donations can be made to The Friends of the Brewster Public Library ([email protected] ). As a community, we can continue what she started, and keep her memory alive.