LAMBERTVILLE — Elizabeth M. “Liz” Koster, a musician, music educator, and artist who was a champion of cultural causes and known for throwing music or art-themed soirees at her home, died July 29 in Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center. She was 85.
She was in failing health since October, 2012, and lived in Heartland of Waterville, her niece Nancy Nopper said.
Mrs. Koster played piano, but a specialty became harpsichord, best known as a Baroque-era keyboard instrument. She had several in her home and played for invited guests. She also performed in public, most notably at a Johann Sebastian Bach festival at the Toledo Museum of Art to mark the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
She was a former president of the Toledo Opera Guild and the Toledo Symphony League, and a former chairman of the Sapphire Ball and the Toledo Symphony Ball.
“She was extremely involved with the orchestra and the opera for decades in a very constructive and positive way,” said Bob Bell, Toledo Symphony president emeritus and chief artistic officer.
Her husband, Dr. Edward Koster, “was a key part of that,” Mr. Bell said. “The two of them together were quite a forceful team. She was the performer. He was a tremendous music-lover, and they were a natural pair together.” Dr. Koster died on Jan. 28, 2007.
Longtime friend Victoria Williamson said: “She was knowledgeable. She was funny — a great organizer and a tenacious worker. She had a way of organizing people into doing things.”
The Kosters’ distinctive Lambertville A-frame house was built in the late 1960s to accommodate their interests, based on her design and his engineering. The late Blade writer Gerry Hudick called it “the house that talent built.”
An informal gathering might mean 14 guests. A dinner party might draw 100 or more, and often had a theme: Russian to honor a violinist who was a guest soloist with the symphony, roasted geese and trifle and plum pudding and other traditional English food to celebrate her third harpsichord, which was made in England.
“We have a big house, and I like to fill it with people,” Mrs. Koster told The Blade. “I know a bunch of really neat people,” she said on another occasion. “I really enjoy throwing people together. I choose those who have something in common and I think I'm good at it.”
She made no effort to dismiss lingering guests.
“I love it when eight or more guests stay late so that I can kick off my shoes and talk; sort of hash things over,” she said in 1985.
Mrs. Koster not only taught students to play the piano, she taught them how to stand and what to do with the sheet music and how to look at the audience, her niece said.
“It wasn’t just a piano lesson,” Mrs. Nopper said.
She was a former member of the Bedford Township board of zoning appeals and was on the advisory board of the Bedford Branch Library.
"“She was very gregarious and friendly, and quite willing to work hard on whatever cause she was focused on at the time, and fortunately there were many times that was the symphony or the [Toledo] Youth Orchestra or music education,” Mr. Bell said.
Mrs. Koster also was a painter and watercolorist who created her own Christmas cards and hand-painted invitations to the Sapphire Ball. She also exhibited her work at artists' shows.
She was born Elizabeth Miller on Nov. 9, 1927. She was a graduate of DeVilbiss High School and received a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Toledo.
She and her husband traveled the world and much of North America. In the early 1980s, as a delegate to the Michigan Republican Convention, she spoke out against ascendant forces in the party who opposed abortion rights and sought to emphasize religion in public life.
“She was a very liberal lady and outspoken about it,” Mrs. Williamson said.
She was formerly married to the late Edward Draheim. Their sons, James and John Draheim, died in 2005 and 2010, respectively.
Surviving are her stepdaughter, Barbara Koster, and stepson, Edward Koster.
A life celebration is scheduled for 1 p.m. Aug. 18 in the Bedford Branch Library. The Newcomer Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Tributes are suggested to the Bedford library, Toledo Botanical Garden, Toledo Artists Club, the Toledo Symphony’s remembrance fund, or the Toledo Youth Orchestra.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6182.