There are people all around the small communities that make up the United States of America, some quietly living out world-famous greatness. So quietly, perhaps, that generations of the young have no idea they are surrounded by epic individuals.
This is so true of the life of Elizabeth Pastor, who lived her life fully but rather quietly in Ashland County. When she died at age 92 in her home, my daughter was one of the stunned when she read the glowing obituary of a very gifted woman.
“I knew she was a very impressive woman, and I always loved talking to her, but I had no idea that she was this accomplished,” Caroline said.
I had pointed out the lovely Pastor home with the full-sized Tin Man standing in greeting on the lawn to my children over their childhood and told them great stories of this gifted pianist, but it never occurred to me that they would not retain such stories.
Ms. Pastor had received her artist diploma from Boston’s Longy School of Music. She studied piano with Beryl Rubinstein, Boris Goldovsky and other greats. To hear this incredibly gifted pianist was an unforgettable experience.
She made her debut at Town Hall, New York, and made solo appearances with leading orchestras throughout the country. She performed at the Boston Pops, the NBC Symphony in New York, the Las Vegas Philharmonic, and Cleveland Orchestra among many other lovely venues.
She could have gone anywhere, but she chose to live in the hometown that adored her — Ashland, Ohio — where she was a colorful soul, an outstanding educator and community leader.
She taught piano, often in her home, and those lucky enough to have studied under her say that she sometimes happily wandered off to another room while they played, once in awhile calling out a missed note. Positively encouraging, she exuded joyfulness and artistry.
When I was young, it was always fun to spot her driving around our community in a bright yellow convertible, her colorful clothing choice shining as bright as her smile.
Ms. Pastor loved to travel and collect art, and her unique, extensive lifetime collection brought hundreds of people all over the country when it was sold at auction recently.
“I feel blessed because music and art have been such a vital part of my life. To witness the natural creative process is a miracle to behold. The human spirit with all of its frailty is still able to respond to the heartbeat of the arts.
“The timeless quality of great art is such that no technology can replace it. There is nothing more complex or beautiful in its simplicity than a musical phrase or more moving than a powerful work of art,” said Elizabeth Pastor, in a quote that was included in her obituary.
Ms. Pastor was still mentoring and teaching piano, happily welcoming a select few students into her home.
Her vibrant presence may be gone, but her light will shine on. Some shine so brightly, standing on the stage of a life lived fully, that their presence remains long after the goodbyes are spoken.
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