Carmen Pursley was a music teacher most of her life. She started teaching violin while a senior in high school and continued to maintain a private violin studio her entire life. She received her educational specialist degree from Ball State in Muncie, Indiana, and a Master of Music in performance and music literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. For 14 years, Carmen was a traveling string teacher in the Rockford Schools, serving fifth grade through high school. During that time, she was assistant conductor of East High Orchestra and traveled with the Orchestra to Copenhagen, Denmark, for a two-week concert tour through the people to people program. She also taught at Middle Tennessee State University. She performed with the Nashville Symphony, the Muncie Symphony and the Rockford Symphony under conductors Charles Bornstein and Steven Larsen. She also performed with the Rockford Symphony Chamber Orchestra, appearing as a soloist on its final concert with the Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra. She played in the Woodstock Mozart Festival and with the Baroque Ensemble from Indiana, which performed for six weeks in Majorca, Spain. Carmen played with the Riverside String Quartet and the Tiffany Trio, and performed solos at her church. She was a performing artist of the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center for more than 20 years and was a member of its board of directors. In 1994, she was honored by the Mendelssohn PAC with the Mary Chaney Clark Award for volunteerism and in 2004 she received the Starr of Excellence Award from the same organization. On May 4, 2000 the ninth annual RAMI Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to her and her late husband, Wilbur, for their lifetime dedication to music nationally and in the Rockford area.