Celebrating Canton Seniors: Michele

May is Older Americans Month, a time to acknowledge the lives and contributions of senior citizens around the United States. The library is proud to present biographies of several Canton seniors this month. Stop by each week in May to learn about these fantastic residents.

Sometimes the friends we make can be life changing, and a buddy that Canton resident, Michele, made when she was younger did indeed change her life path. Michele was born in Cleveland, Ohio and recalls some of her earliest memories of playing ball in the street with the boys since she was the only girl on her block. She started taking music lessons at a young age as the music teacher lived three doors down and a lesson cost just 50 cents. A talented student, Michele skipped a grade in elementary school and made a friend who invited her to a church. This moment ended up being an important milestone in her life—at that church she met the choir director who recognized her talents and taught her to play the organ. 

Michele went to Northwestern Illinois University where she received her bachelor’s degree in music education and began teaching high school music in Cleveland as well as working at the music camp, Interlochen, in northern Michigan. She attended the University of Michigan to earn her Ph.D. in organ and stayed there as a professor, teaching and inspiring aspiring musicians, until she retired. Today, Michele and fellow community resident and musician, Earl, entertain the residents of their retirement community with their music every Friday after dinner. 

One of Michele’s most treasured memories is that of visiting what was once East Germany in the 1980’s. She and her colleagues were able to visit and play some of the most beautiful church organs in that area despite not being able to speak German and having to go through several checkpoints. Michele recalls that it was unnerving and exciting at the same time.