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Farewell to my Beloved Teacher – Tammy Sterrit

I have sad news. My beloved fruit carving teacher and mentor Tammy Sterrit passed away over the weekend. Brain cancer that had spread throughout her body was took her from us all too soon.

But what a life she led. She was loved and respected by so very many people. And she gave so much to so many. From a personal perspective, I would not have the skills or the business that I have today without Tammy.

Tammy Sterrit

My lovely and talented teacher, Tammy Sterrit

Nita and Teacher Tammy Sterrit at Songkran festival

Nita and Teacher Tammy Sterrit at Songkran festival

Tammy was a wonderfully kind and very generous spirit. Born and raised in Thailand, she lived in San Diego with her American born husband Jim. Tammy had a great desire to keep the Thai traditions alive was instrumental in founding a Thai Buddhist temple where the Thai community could gather and thrive. Here the Thai holidays are celebrated. Temple members volunteer to teach children and adults the Thai language, and traditional Thai music, dance and art. Tammy taught fruit carving at the temple almost every weekend during the spring through early fall. She spent the other months in Thailand. She was so generous with teaching her fruit carving skills to me and many others. Her desire was to keep the Thai style art of fruit carving alive.

You can see her carvings and her influence in many of my blog posts by clicking here.

Tammy -girl in Thai costume

Tammy with temple member girl in traditional Thai costume.

Tammy learned her fruit carving skills from two teachers that are well known and respected in Thailand. One was Burinpat Choowong, a well respected carver who authored several books on fruit carving. The other was Damrongsak Niran who was one of the first (that I am aware of) to put his carving lessons on video. In fact, his were the first video lessons I had seen. This was before DVDs. It was only after after knowing Tammy for several years that I discovered that Damrongsak Niran was her teacher. Not knowing who her teacher was, I had given a couple of my DVDs to Tammy to take to her teacher in Thailand with my words of thanks to him for having taught her, who then taught me. When she returned, she had a gift for me from her teacher. Is was the very same video lessons and book by Damrongsak Niran that had been my first carving lessons! Until then, I had no idea that he had taught her personally. Small world.

Tammy Sterrit and Nita Gill

Fruit Carving teacher Tammy Sterrit and her student Nita Gill

Ever so generous, Tammy brought me and the other students books and knives and soap to carve each year when she returned from Thailand. She was always on the lookout for Thai Carving books that were also in English that she could give to me.

Tammy Skerrit’s life has benefited so many people

Tammy with students

Tammy with students at end of summer “graduation” celebration.

Tammy’s teaching has reached so many people. She was inspiring and always encouraging to all of her students. Not only has her teaching touched those she has taught directly, but also thousand of others who have learned through my lessons. I guess you could say her that work has touched millions if you count all those who have viewed my YouTube videos.

Tammy's students

Some of Tammy’s students at friendly competition.

Tammy made a great positive impact on a great many people during her life here. She was honored and loved by so many, friends, family and members of the Thai community. She will be sorely missed.

I will miss Tammy and always think of her with fondness and gratitude. She will always hold a very special place in my heart.

The next time you carve something from one of my lessons, please take a moment to send up a sweet thought of gratitude to our beloved teacher, Tammy Sterrit.

Nita and TammyUntil we meet again, Tammy……

Learn to carve like a pro


45 Responses to Farewell to my Beloved Teacher – Tammy Sterrit

  1. marcie jaworski October 20, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    What a nice tribute to the carving instructor, Tammy memorializing her greatest achievements. That is what I like about Nita, yes she sells her products for a price, but her website isnt just about making profits: she really does personalize the art of fruit carving by praising so many people. I am sure Tammy has left a wonderful legacy behind, of which her followers will continue her efforts in the world of fruit carving.

    • Nita Gill October 20, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

      Thank you Marcie. That is so sweet of you.

    • Aida Vidigal October 20, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

      Am very my condolence to the family and the team, that is the biggest lost. may her soul rest in peace.

      Aida Vidigal

    • Brenda October 21, 2014 at 5:55 am #

      My condolences to Tammy, the one who passed the talent to Nita down to me and maybe to the next generations. Thank you for the gift of fruit curving and vegetable curving!

    • Rosalie October 21, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      I am so sorry for your loss, my prayers are with you and her family for a speedy spiritual healing
      people like her that touched so many in a positive way are a great loss to our society.
      may she rest in peace, my LOVE to all

    • Monica Balarezo October 21, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

      It is nice to know a wonderful teacher as Tommy, I am very sorry for your lost but always is the hope that one day we will see our lovings ones that departed, when the Lord Jesus come bake to take as home.
      ” And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, either shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” Revelations 21:4
      With love
      Your student

  2. Maggie reis October 20, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    I’m very sorry for the lost my prayers will be for mrs Tommy. And I wishe peace for her family .

    • Nita Gill October 20, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

      Thank you Maggie

    • Scott Taylor October 21, 2014 at 11:59 am #

      Nita, I am Very sorry for the loss of both your friend and mentor. Tammy sounded like a wonderful person. We all know she is at peace after fighting a terrible illness. We are grateful for her teachings/lessons and many will be richer for the experience. God bless and keep you and her family safe and comforted.

  3. Barbara Waplak October 20, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    Nita road so it is sad when someone so dear and close to leaving.
    Words of compassion for the whole of her family send forth. When the makings of something that they think just about your teacher and you because you taught me how to do this .I am very happy and grateful even though so few know.
    Best wishes and thanks from now you’re just as good a teacher for all Barbara

    • Nita Gill October 20, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

      Thank you for your kind words Barbara.

  4. Amila October 20, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    so sorry to hear about your loss.She has done so many good things including teaching.
    May her rest in peace!

  5. Isabel McConnon October 20, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    Dear Nita,

    When we lose a close friend as Tammy was for you here on earth, we gain an angel in heaven that watches over us. May you take comfort in knowing that you have an angel to watch over you now. Tammy won’t feel pain anymore because she is now with our father in heaven. I’m so sorry for your loss

    • Nita Gill October 20, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

      Thank you Isabel. Those are very sweet thoughts to keep in mind.

  6. Lynne Schreer October 20, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

    What am absolutely beautiful memorial to your cherished teacher and friend. Thank you for sharing that. You are certainly paying it forward with your teachings as well. May her memory be a blessing to you and may Tammy rest in peace.
    Lynne Schreer

  7. Delia Griffin October 20, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    Hi Nita,
    My sincere condolences to Tammy and her family. My thoughts and prayers for the family. It’s always sad when someone you love leaves us but now I just have to depend on you as my teacher although I haven’t done much carving lately as I’m babysitting my 6 yr. old granddaughter after school. Thank you so much for always sharing the carving pictures. I’m learning just by looking at them as well. Thank you so much…. Delia

  8. Beverley McKie October 20, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    So sorry for your loss of a great friend and teacher. May she rest in peace. I know that her legacy will still carry on with people like you who have departed the knowledge that you have learnt from her. I found your site couple of weeks ago and will soon be a member, and know that Tammy will be watching over you.

  9. Nancy October 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    With deepest condolences for your loss. I will keep both of you in my prayers. Rest in Peace Tammy!

  10. Linhpham October 20, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

    Please accept my most sincere condolances to your beloved mentor.

  11. Farida October 20, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    Dear Nita
    I am very sorry to hear 🙁
    Please accept my condolence,
    May her soul rest in peace .

  12. Dianne Ha October 20, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. She is now rest in peace without pain!

  13. angie October 21, 2014 at 5:03 am #

    So sorry to hear of this loss….Her memory will live on through the talent she taught you…thank you for sharing….God bless…

  14. Naheed Akhter October 21, 2014 at 5:15 am #

    Sorry for the great loss. In my opinion she has left physically but she is living in each one of you who has learned from her . You are keeping her alive by teaching her work ,wonderful. May God bless her soul.

  15. jj181 October 21, 2014 at 5:28 am #

    Nita, your words are inspirational to everyone, to loose a special friend is one of the hardest things that we face throughout our lives.. I thankyou for sharing this story with us all and hope that each and everyone of us take note of your heartfelt words. There are many stars in the sky that represent loved ones and I am sure that there is one very special star shining brightly above us that represents our truly loved ones that have left the earth way to early. May the teaching that you continue to do give as much as what your teacher gave you…………. that being the art of talent that is filled with love…………. Rest In Peace Tammy xx

    • Nita Gill October 21, 2014 at 7:07 am #

      Thank you JJ. Let is a really sweet thought about the stars.

  16. Nita Gill October 21, 2014 at 7:06 am #

    Thank you so much everyone for your kind words of condolence.

  17. Janette October 21, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    I’m so sorry for your lost. I know how hard is to lose a friend. She was your Angel so when you feel sad just look up to the sky and know that she will be smiling at you.

  18. David October 21, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    Dear Nita,

    I understand your loss. Just think of all the good times you had together as teacher and as a student learning your craft from a pro. She is gone but she will never be forgotten. Next time you cut some fruit smile and think of her. She will be looking down at you I know she is proud of you and everything you have done. You aren’t done yet….. you are still learning.

  19. Susie Belden Lombardo October 21, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    Dear Nita…..So saddened for you by this news. I will be thinking of you.

  20. Saysong October 21, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    Thank you so much Nina for sharing your talent and these special memories of Tammy with us, So sorry for the loss of such a great lady, may her spirit live on forever. very sad story, I lost two of my brothers with brain tumor, I can really relate to. I will pray for her families , and may Tammy rest in peace.

  21. Laura October 21, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    Hi Nita, My Sincere condolences on this very, very sad time Nita. It is so sad to lose such a close and dear friend and mentor. My Thoughts are with you in this time. I am so sorry for you’re loss!

  22. Nazia Sultana October 22, 2014 at 4:24 am #

    I am very sorry for the loss. I pray for her peaceful after life.

    • Nita Gill October 22, 2014 at 10:21 am #

      Thank you for your prayers Nazia.

  23. Aneta October 22, 2014 at 7:27 am #

    Dear Nita,

    It is very sad news. Losing your friend Tammy must be really hard for you. It is never easy to say ‘good bye’ to someone who was dear to us. For sure it was amazing experience to learn carving from Tammy. Who can be a better teacher then someone who originates from Thailand?! I am glad you have had the chance to meet her, learn carving from her and pass it on to us. Thank you for sharing your story.
    In a difficult times like this sometimes we wonder why there is so much suffering, why people die? Everyone wonders about it at some point in his life. I have lost my father and other close people in my life. What helped me to cope with the pain and sadness was the promise that is written in the Bible in Acts 24:15:
    “I have hope toward God, (…), that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous”.
    This and other verses reassures us that God will bring our loved ones back to life here on earth. We will see them again!
    You can read more about it by following the link below. There is a lot of helpful information in the ‘online library’ there, that helped me and may also help you to cope with the grief.

    My thoughts are with you in this difficult time.


    • Nita Gill October 22, 2014 at 10:20 am #

      Aneta, Thank you for your words of comfort. I too, like to believe that at some point, we will be reunited with our loved ones.

  24. Nita Gill October 22, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    I’m quite amazed and surprised at the number of condolence messages. In addition to those seen on this page, I’ve received many times more messages via email. It’s getting hard to respond to all so I’d like to thank each and every one of you who have responded, for your kind words and thoughtfulness.

  25. Ric Testani October 22, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    My Dear Nita,

    I am so sorry to hear of Tammy loosing her battle. She looks like a kind wonderful person. I am sure this has been a really hard hit for you. I am sure she will always be with you and still guiding you in all you do. She must have been so very proud of you and all your accomplishments. She did create a wonderful teacher and I will always be grateful to her for us having you as our teacher. I will be sending prayers to her family and loved ones for their loss. I pray for our lord to hold her ever so gently in the palms of his hands creating a special spot for her to rest in peace.
    I think we should do our new adventure in honor of Tammy and place it in her honor. I am sure her spirit will be present as well.

    • Nita Gill October 23, 2014 at 10:32 am #

      Thanks for your kind words. Nice idea.

  26. Minia October 23, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Dios les de el consuelo por tan lamentable perdida sus enseñanzas quedaran por siempre como una siembra en todos aquellos que fueron bendecidos con su presencia.

  27. john dandrea October 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    it is truly a sad time nita, especially for you to loose such a talent and dear friend. her memory will live on because of her teaching.

  28. Gadija October 24, 2014 at 7:00 am #

    Nice tribute. May she rest in peace.

  29. Juan October 30, 2014 at 2:46 am #

    It’s a great loss. And. May her soul rest in peace.

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