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Published: Saturday, 8/23/2008

St. Thomas Aquinas parishioner directed comedic kazoo band

Doris May Ueberroth Smith, 83, leader of a comedic kazoo band of East Toledo housewives who performed with costumes and instruments fashioned from kitchen utensils, died Thursday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township.

She died of complications from pancreatic cancer, her son, Peter Ueberroth, said.

Looking to enliven their monthly meetings, Mrs. Smith organized a group of women parishioners at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in East Toledo in 1958 to form The Kitchenettes.

More comedy than musical performance, the women attached mixing spoons, egg beaters, cheese graters, and a myriad of kitchen objects to their kazoos, while outfitting themselves in checked cotton dresses and hats made of decorated aluminum pie tins.

They then launched into musical numbers such as "Alley Cat" and "I've Been Working In The Kitchen," and often performed humorous skits that Mrs. Smith wrote, her son said.

The group was accompanied by a pianist, the only trained musician in the room.

Mrs. Smith was affectionately known as their "mother leader," The Blade's former Food Editor Mary Alice Powell explained in a 1965 article.

"Nobody has more fun in the band than [Mrs. Smith]. While keeping the group in line by wielding a rolling pin or a mixing spoon, she adds a few dance steps, waltzing through "Three O'Clock In The Morning," or a few faster steps in the "Pennsylvania Polka."

Through the years, the group added more homemade instruments as well as members, with as many as two dozen women involved during its 1960s heyday.

The women took their 30-minute shows to nursing homes, social occasions, and nonprofit groups.

"They would stoke their washboards and pluck their washtub base fiddles," Mr. Ueberroth said. "This wasn't something they did once in a blue moon. They practiced all the time. They were very professional."

Member Mary Ann LaFleur said that Mrs. Smith's contributions in creativity and spirit were indispensable.

"I always called Doris our funny girl," Mrs. LaFleur said. "She was the life-of-the-party-type girl."

Doris May Mossing was born in Toledo on Jan. 25, 1925, and was one of eight children.

She attended the former St. Mary's School in eastern Fulton County's Assumption but left for work before graduation to help her family during the Depression.

In 1946, she married George Ueberroth, who died of cancer in 1985.

She remarried in 1990 to Keith Smith, who died in 1996.

She moved back to Assumption in 2003 after marrying her third husband, Edward Smith, who died Aug. 9.

Surviving are her sons, Peter, Ricky, and Joseph Ueberroth; daughters, Kathleen Dominique and Marcia Myers; brothers, Robert and Kenneth Mossing; sister, Eileen Nelson; nine stepchildren, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be after 1 p.m. tomorrow in the Eggleston Meinert Pavley Funeral Home, Oregon Chapel, with a Rosary service at 7 p.m. tomorrow. The funeral will begin at 10 a.m. Monday in the St. Thomas Aquinas Church.

The family suggests tributes to the Helping Hands of St. Louis Outreach Center or the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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