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Joan Grauman, AAA Historian As the organizationís historian, I have been writing historical articles on events that led up to the creation of the AAA and were important for the AAA. This includes some of its influential members, as well as special events throughout the decades, and more.
Joan Grauman, AAA Historian

Meet Washington, DCís Own Joyce Palmer Ė A beautiful Story!

Originally published October 1st, 2015 by

Some of you may have seen a photo of this incredible gravestone on Facebook. “Who is this person and where is this located?”, “BEAUTIFUL, I want this!”, and “??? WOW!” are the comments under the photo. Meet Joyce Palmer: a warm, generous and very much still alive person who sees problems and addresses them head on – and she loves the accordion!

Joyce plays the accordion and, in 2002, decided to bring a small group of accordionists of differing abilities together to form a little band. Joyce named the group “CHAOS”, which stands for “Capitol Hill Accordion Orchestra Society”. Living in Capitol Hill, Joyce was concerned about the future of the 200 year old Congressional Cemetery, where the celebrated composer and band leader John Philip Sousa is buried.

Top Photo:l to r: Joe Kulick, Lee Paulson, Chuck Silio, Joyce Palmer,
Robert Ford and Peter DiGiovanni.

“It is my view that CHAOS helped in part to save Congressional Cemetery from almost certain destruction and loss,” Joyce said proudly during our interview. “I was on the Board of Directors at the cemetery for years during which it did not look as if we would survive the destruction of 200 years of decline and misuse.

This included one Cemetery manager who embezzled us back to about six dollars. Many people including our Board Chairman, Patrick Crowley, got together and worked very hard to find money to pave the roads, match a challenge from the Preservation Trust, find money to save the roof on the little chapel, etc., etc., etc.

CHAOS played five times at the Cemetery for fundraising efforts and support to save this historical property. John Philip Sousa is buried at Congressional Cemetery, so it was a natural for us to bring music to the Cemetery. Every day I thank our little group for their efforts in “the bad old days”. Incidentally, Congressional Cemetery was saved and now there is an endowment with the National Trust to save this historical property in perpetuity.”

Joyce Palmer

“So, the beautiful stone accordion – what a touching tribute to our beloved instrument – what made you create this monument, years before your passing?” I asked. Joyce beamed. “I chose to have an accordion carved out of black granite as a gravestone monument on the main road of Congressional Cemetery because that was the location where our little band CHAOS had played so often to help this organization survive. Since I was on the Board of Directors and a member of the church that owns the Cemetery, the plot was sold to me.

Joyce's ceiling in her master bathroom.

There is accommodation in this burial plot for up to ten people. I chose to open the site up to poor musicians. There is a passel of us! Three spots have been spoken for and each person has a place for their names, dates and thoughts. My thoughts read ‘Music is the Answer’. One of the others chose ‘Musician and Composer’. The rest will be revealed.”

Congressional Cemetery in Washington DC.

I have played with CHAOS occasionally at Joyce’s house parties. They are lovely people and really enjoying being together and playing music. Joyce says, “It is true that we are not really very good, so we may be asked to play a lot….but… we never get asked back.” I didn’t believe her, as they really do sound good! Joyce spoke of her wonderful house and yard. “I built a little stage in my backyard. CHAOS now plays on occasion for shut-ins and seniors. The area has been smoothed out for wheelchairs. Our little group seems to do well when the senior bus shows up at my house and we play the old favorites for our guests. It may be that we serve good sandwiches, but who cares. We get to play together and enjoy each other’s company. Thank goodness for the good people of CHAOS.”

Thank goodness for you, Joyce Palmer!

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