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Published: Sunday, 7/30/2006

Pianist oversaw concerts, lessons at art museum

Joyce Roper Young, 74, who oversaw music performance and instruction at the Toledo Museum of Art, died of cancer Friday in her Springfield Township home.

Mrs. Young retired from the museum in 1977 after a cerebral aneurysm. She was paralyzed on her right side initially and spent more than six months in rehabilitation. She regained her mobility and, in teaching herself the piano again, tackled Scott Joplin pieces.

"Her life changed to less career-oriented and a simpler life," her daughter Sharon Abendroth said. "She really stopped to smell those roses."

Mrs. Young was in the museum's music department about two years when in June, 1957, museum director Blake-More Godwin appointed her supervisor of music.

Her duties included booking the Peristyle Series of major concerts and the Gallery Series of chamber concerts. She also was in charge of music classes and the music docent program. She took time off to stay at home with her three daughters, although in 1960 museum director Otto Wittmann named her a consultant in music. She resumed her duties as supervisor about 1967, her daughter said.

Mrs. Young was a pianist and composer who received a bachelor of music in piano degree and a master of music literature degree from the University of Michigan. When she began at the Toledo Museum of Art, she led music classes for adults and children.

"Working with children was one of my mom's favorite things," her daughter said. "She also loved mentoring adults [and] teaching adults."

Mrs. Young's job allowed her daily contact with artists, musicians, and scholars.

"There was never a day she didn't want to learn something," her daughter said.

Her husband, James H. Young, had been a music literature student of hers. He found her attractive. She found his classroom demeanor obnoxious, their daughter said.

A fire at an apartment house in the neighborhood brought them both out to watch. They started talking, and he persuaded her to go out with him. They married July 5, 1957. "She was intrigued by his dry sense of humor," Ms. Abendroth said.

Born Marilyn Joyce Roper, she grew up in the St. Louis area and played piano by 6. She got a baby grand piano for her 16th birthday.

"She was a completely individual strong woman who was very determined to have her own career," her daughter said. "She was very bright. She was a rock of strength."

Mrs. Young and her family enjoyed summer vacations in Wisconsin. She and her husband took trips to Europe.

Her husband died May 9.

Surviving are her daughters, Kimberly Fioretto, Nancy Young-Wood, and Sharon Abendroth; brother, Larry Roper, and four grandchildren.

There will be no visitation. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Epworth United Methodist Church, of which she was a member. Arrangements are by the J. Jeffrey Fretti Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the church, the Toledo Museum of Art, or Heartland Hospice.



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