Memories of Kitty Keller
Blog Home All Blogs
On December 11, 2018 we lost Kate Van Winkle Keller (Kitty), the first Executive Director of SAM, originally the Sonneck Society. So many fine memories and remembrances. This page is dedicated to her. Please feel free to post any thoughts.

 

Search all posts for:   

 

Obituary and Memorial Service Information

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2018
It is with sorrow that we announce the passing of Kate Van Winkle Keller of Westwood, MA on December 11, 2018. Kitty, as she was known to friends and family, was born on April 28, 1937 in Providence, RI, the daughter of the late Kate Louise (Vondermuhll) and Edward Kingsland Van Winkle, Jr.. She leaves behind beloved husband of nearly 60 years, Robert Monteith Keller (Westwood, MA), daughters Anne Keller Geraci and her partner Joseph St. Martin (Pittsford NY), and Margaret Keller Dimock and her husband Allyn Dimock (Concord MA), as well as sister Anne Van Winkle (Oakland CA), and brothers Peter Kemble Van Winkle (Center Sandwich NH) and Edward Scott Van Winkle (Essex CT), along with grandchildren Elisabeth Leigh Geraci (Boulder CO) and Carolyn Marie Geraci (Burlington VT), and many nieces and nephews. A graduate of Vassar College, Class of 1959, Kitty did post-graduate work at the Hartford Conservatory of Music. Music and dance were a constant part of her life, as an author, musicologist and historian. Major publications include The Playford Ball, and Dance and Its Music in America, 1528–1789, exemplifying her passion and dedication to recovering and understanding early American Music and Dance. Her proudest achievement was the path breaking work, If the Company can do it!, first presented to the International Early Dance Institute in 1989. She was an officer and Executive Director of The Society for American Music from 1977 to 2000, representing the Society at the American Council of Learned Societies. Kitty was also a founding member and Research Director of The Colonial Music Institute. In recognition of her scholarly achievements, Keller was elected to membership in the American Antiquarian Society of Worcester, MA in 2004, given a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 by the Society for American Music, and was named Honorary Member of the Country Dance and Song Society in 1993. Kitty and Bob spent much of their married life in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and most recently the retirement community, Fox Hill Village in Westwood Mass. Kitty was a vibrant force in each community in which she lived, embracing the cultural resources and opportunities offered. At Fox Hill Village, Kitty joined the Westwood Baptist Church Ringers, the Wellesley Community Chorus and the Fox Hill Village Chorus. She also directed the Fox Hill Ringers, and introduced a weekly country dance to the community. Kitty loved working in the garden, bird-watching, singing in various choruses, and doing country dance; but she was happiest researching and working on her various dance and music projects. A memorial service will be held at 3PM on Saturday, January 19, 2019 at First Baptist Church of Westwood, MA.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Sad news, indeed

Posted By Paul F. Wells, Thursday, December 13, 2018
Kitty Keller's passing is truly a watershed event both for our Society and for American music scholarship. I cannot think of any other individual who so embodied the spirit and aims of our organization, including many who perhaps enjoy more prestige within the academy. Her curiosity, knowledge, and enthusiasm were boundless, her contributions to the field enormous. Working always without benefit of--or the shackles imposed by--any institutional affiliation, she accomplished more than any five other people. Others have enumerated some of her many accomplishments so I need not repeat them. I knew, and admired, her work before ever I joined the Sonneck Society; it was truly an honor and pleasure to get to know her once I did. And when I did Kitty, of course, welcomed me with open arms...and a hefty to-do list of things she thought needed attention! Apart from our mutual love for the Society and its members, we shared many musical interests as well -- tune scholarship, early American music, and music manuscripts. Indeed, Kitty was a major source of inspiration for me in building the manuscript holdings of the Center for Popular Music, the collection that now forms a major component of the joint CPM/American Antiquarian Society's American Vernacular Music Manuscripts project and website. Kitty was someone I often turned to for assistance with some project or other. Whenever I did she was always beyond generous in sharing materials and knowledge. I had the pleasure of visiting her and Bob's home on a few occasions, at times to conduct Society business, at others to pursue research in her amazing personal library. The latter visits were always more productive than trekking to the Library of Congress might have been, and usually included lunch and/or tea & cookies! Of course, the greatest informational resource was what was contained in her head, a resource that she shared as graciously as she did her tangible materials. As others have noted, our Society might not exist at all had it not been for Kitty's enthusiasm and energy. SAM is now quite a different animal than was the early Sonneck Society, and though the evolution is welcome, it is more than a little disheartening to realize that many of today's members never knew Kitty and perhaps are unaware of all that she did in the organization's first quarter century or so. She deserves to be memorialized in some very substantial way. --Paul Wells, past-president SAM

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

another voice -- aren't we many?

Posted By David K. Hildebrand, Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Adult role models are EVERYTHING to the aspiring young people lucky enough to meet and keep them. Especially when they, like Kitty, inspire those they inspire to carry the torch. It's a wonderful system and my personal and professional goal since I met Kitty in 1986, was, is, and will continue to be to help, share, and encourage others to embrace history, study it, preserve it, spread the word about, and have fun along the way (oh, yes, and to leave a fully-documented scholarly trail behind, with complete footnotes ... mostly based upon primary sources). There is much more to acknowledge and be thankful for about Kitty, and it will all be honest and good. Certainly those posted to this blog so far are. My words here are barely formulating, and more are to come, but I wanted to chime something into this wonderful forum of praise for a wonderful, special friend and scholar. David Hildebrand, Ph.D. Director, The Colonial Music Institute (founded 1999, yeah, Kitty & Bob's idea)

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

From Katherine Preston

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 12, 2018
I was shocked and saddened at the news that Mariana Whitmer shared in this forum yesterday, that the Society for American Music has lost one of its founding members and an important scholar of early American music. Kate van Winkle Keller, who died on 11 December 2018 at the age of 81, was a major contributor not only to American music scholarship, but also to our Society: she was an early member of the Board of Trustees, and from 1977 to 2000 served as our first Executive Director. In 1995 she was the recipient of the Society’s Distinguished Service Citation. Kitty (as she was known) was a pioneer in the creation of data bases of information about music and musicians culled from large bodies of primary documents. She (and Carolyn Rabson) produced the National Tune Index (1980), which is now known as Early American Secular Music and Its European Sources, 1589-1839: An Index, and in 1997 completed (in collaboration with Mary Jane Corry and her husband Robert Keller) The Performing Arts in Colonial American Newspapers, 1690-1783. Both are online and represent extraordinarily valuable tools for research into early American music history. Her magnum opus, however, is Dance and Its Music in America, 1528-1789 (2007), an authoritative compendium of the history of dance and dance music in North America from the time of European contact through almost the end of the eighteenth century. She also wrote many articles and chapters on the topic and, in general, was a force to be reckoned with in the scholarship of both music (in general) and music for dance (in particular) in early America. But I remember Kitty most as an ebullient presence, even upon first meeting her in 1980 when, as a master’s degree student, I joined the Sonneck Society (as SAM was then known). She was warm, welcoming, knowledgeable, and a perfect embodiment of what the Society stood (and stands) for: collegiality, encouragement, support, and passion for the history of American music. I worked closely with Kitty for several decades, as a member or chair of various committees, when I was on the Board of Trustees, and later while I was Secretary of the Society. I had her telephone number on my phone’s speed-dial, for I knew that I could always call her up to ask questions. She was inevitably cheerful and enthusiastic when I called, and we would catch up on each others’ lives, as friends and colleagues do, before turning to my questions—for which she usually had the answers. I also chaired the search committee tasked with hiring her successor, which helped to reinforce my understanding of what a major contributor she had been to the Society for so many years. Kitty was still ebullient, enthusiastic, and cheerful when I last visited her about two years ago. She was also still thoroughly engaged in scholarship and, over lunch, described with excitement her various ongoing projects. The Society for American Music owes a great deal to Kate van Winkle Keller and should be forever grateful to her. Those of us who knew her will never forget her. Our sincere condolences to her husband, Bob, and to the other members of their family. Katherine K. Preston Past President, Society for American Music

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

We've lost a giant.

Posted By Dale Cockrell, Wednesday, December 12, 2018
I’m deeply saddened by Kitty’s passing. I’ve lost a friend and the society has lost one of its true giants. Kitty was among the society’s foreparents, all of whom were inspired by and shared in an idea. Kitty, though, was (almost uniquely) the one gave the idea daily attention and sustenance. I quite seriously wonder if there would be a Society for American Music today if we hadn’t had our Kitty to make it happen. She just gave and gave and gave and in such bounty that we’ve never been able to repay her. That she was also a very fine scholar just adds more luster to a life exceedingly well lived in the service of American music and of humankind. I’m not a particularly religious person, but I like imagining Kitty grilling Isaiah Thomas right now on the anomalies she could never resolve, and tactfully straightening out his faulty memory when necessary. Rest in peace, dear Kitty.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

From Donald Krummel

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Your sad news, Marianna, brings back ancient memories. --of Kitty’s role in the founding of SAM when it was still the Sonneck Society, working with Irv Lowens and a handful of folks who had faith in the viability of an organization that did what neither the American Musicological Society or the Music Library Association could quite do. --of her early work with Carolyn Rabson in founding the Hymn Tune Index. (I think it was all on punched cards in those days!!), heading up to publications by University Music Editions in 1980 and in the MLA Index & Bibliography Series in 1981. (Much of this is nicely documented in Dale Cockrell’s website on American Vernacular Music Manuscripts.) --of her folk dancing enthusiasm (amazing for a person who was not small, and particularly unsetting to those of us who resented all forms of physical exertion). Kitty, you were a wonderful force!

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Remembrances

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Thank you for the sad news, Mariana. I remember Kitty especially in my early days with SAM in the 1970s and 80s. We worked on several committees and projects together, the original SAM logo being one, and I have referred to her fine research often in my own writings. She was always lively, enthusiastic and brimming with good ideas. Although I have not been to a SAM meeting for many years, I still have great memories of participating at many Society events with Kitty, Wiley Hitchcock and others from years back. So sorry we have to lose her. All best, Elise Kirk

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Kate Van Winkle Keller

Posted By Mariana Whitmer, Tuesday, December 11, 2018
I remember when I started with the Society and the ACLS had its CAO meeting in Pittsburgh. Kitty came to the meeting and introduced me to everyone. She was gracious, thoughtful, and enthusiastic about everything and everyone. Just loved her.

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (2)
 

Remembrances

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 11, 2018
I'm sorry I did not know this remarkable woman. You have my condolences. Dolores Cascarino

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

From Nym Cooke

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 11, 2018
It will be easy to remember Kitty as she probably would want to be remembered: vivacious, engaged, loving whatever she was working on, dancing with a sprightly upright elegance, ever ready to smile and laugh. What a thoroughly alive person she was! --and will continue to be, in my memory. Nym Cooke

This post has not been tagged.

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 
Page 1 of 2
1  |  2