The names George and Gretchen Chapman have long been associated with Raleigh Sister Cities and, specifically, the Compiègne Committee. That will never change. But after decades of service, the Chapmans are stepping down from their official duties; the Compiègne Committee will soon have a new Chair.
George and Gretchen Chapman’s involvement with Compiègne dates back to 1989 when they began hosting guests from the French city. Both Chapmans went on to become Raleigh Sister Cities Board Members. Gretchen even served as President for several years.
Gretchen served as Chair of the Compiègne Committee and helped organize several Wake County student school exchanges, in addition to other cultural exchanges between the two cities including “The Christmas Carol,” Broughton Choir performances, a quilt exhibit, a miniature exhibit, a photo exhibit at Meymandi Hall, and much more. Exchanges between Raleigh and Compiègne also included The Dixie Land Jazz Band, cycling, tennis, and golf groups.
Cara Gentile will be stepping into Gretchen Chapman’s shoes as Chair of the Compiègne Committee. Cara went to Compiègne as an exchange student many moons ago, an experience which fostered a love of travel and cross-cultural connection. These days she travels with her husband Tim, daughter Giavanna, and son Laszlo. She is excited to join Raleigh Sister Cities as Compiegne Committee Chair and looks forward to continuing to develop the relationship between the two cities and to facilitate awareness and cultural exchange.
Compiègne, France, was the site of the signing of the Armistice for WWl, ending The Great War. For the past 15 years, a wreath from the people of Compiègne has been presented to the people of Raleigh at the Armistice Day event, which is organized by the NCSU ROTC, at the N.C. State University Bell Tower. In addition, several memorial trees and a plaque have been placed in Compiègne Park, located off Hillsborough Street near the NCSU campus.