Sue Board: Strike Up the Band
Everyone has lifetime ambitions and a lifetime to fulfill them. One of Sue Board’s was to see a live moose. She did that last summer on a hike in Maine in an area that made that sighting more likely: moose alley.
Sue, who lives in Deep River, will not be looking at wildlife but at music on April 14 as a trombone player in the Old Lyme Town Band. The group is playing a joint concert at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme with the Noank-Mystic Community Band. Each band will play individual selections as well as combining for several numbers.
The Old Lyme Town Band is made up of residents not only from the town for which it is named; band members come from Connecticut communities from Guilford to Norwich.
Playing joint concerts, according to Old Lyme Town Band director Richard Chiappetta, gives combined bands a wider range of instrumentation.
“You can put together a full sound and create beautiful music,” he said.
Sue did not start out as a trombone player. She had played the flute for one year in middle school and had also taken piano lessons.
Still, when she entered the University of Connecticut, she was persuaded to join the school’s marching band.
At the first rehearsal, the band played Wipe Out, a number so fast that Sue realized she would never be able to keep up as a flute player. At the second band rehearsal, she found a solution. The band director said the group was short of people to play low brass instruments. Sue volunteered to play the trombone.
There was, however, still a problem. She had no idea how to play the instrument. Other band members and the assistant director coached her. Learning to be in the band was a triple challenge.
“You had to march, breathe, and get the right note,” she says.
The band practiced three days a week for two hours as well as practicing and playing on Saturdays for football games. “It was a lot of work for one credit,” Sue says.
In Sue’s freshman year, the band also played at a professional football game in Buffalo, New York, between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills. Sue recalls it was pouring rain, and the football players were not enthusiastic about the band.
“They just wanted us off the field,” she says.
That same year, 1996, the marching band also played at a World Series game between the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves. They were not allowed to stand on the manicured grass but instead performed on the warming track. The group did not stay for the entire game.
“We left in the seventh inning because the Yankees were losing,” Sue says.
(Ultimately, the Yankees won that series, four games to two.)
Sue earned both her undergraduate and master’s degree in natural resources management engineering.
She wanted to be a park ranger.
At her first class, the professor had some dispiriting words about that goal. He asked why students were taking the class when all the jobs were out west.
Nonetheless, Sue was not discouraged. “I loved the topics, protecting the environment, wetlands, meteorology, wildlife management, mapping,” she says.
Those classes also give her background for the Deep River Conservation and Inland Wetlands Commission, on which she has served since she and her husband Travis moved to Deep River in 2005. The definition of a wetland, Sue points out, does not depend on water but rather on a soil analysis.
“Is it sandy loam or loamy sand,” she explains, describing the kind of information necessary. A trained soil scientist does the testing.
The commission meets once a month and there are currently vacancies. Interested residents should contact the first selectman’s office. “It is a great group and a way to meet people in town,” Sue says.
Most of Sue’s professional life has been spent working for the federal government as a security auditor for the Department of Defense. She and Travis and their two teenage daughters, Audrey and Holly, have spent many vacations hiking not only in the United States but also in Europe. She recalls the most nerve-wracking hike she ever did was in Acadia National Park in Maine on a route called Precipice Trail that involved a rocky ascent on metal rungs.
“I woke up at night wondering why we had ever done that,” she says. “I am really not a risk taker.”
She is, however, a runner, no longer the marathons and ultra-marathons she once did. Now she runs two or three miles daily.
“If I do more than that, I end up in physical therapy,” she says.
Sue, who grew up in Derby, went to an all-girls high school. “I told my parents I would finally meet a boy in college,” she says. And she did. Sue met Travis, a saxophone player who is also a member of the Old Lyme Town Band, on the first day of marching band practice at the University of Connecticut.
The Old Lyme and Noank-Mystic bands Joint Concert is on Friday, April 14, at 7 p.m. at Christ the King Church, 1 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme. Admission is free.