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SHAFER ANN DICKSON
ANN DICKSON SHAFER
Ann Dickson Shafer was born in New York City in 1925 and was raised in the Boston and New York City areas where her father, Dr. Wilson (Jack) G. Smillie, was a professor of public health at Harvard and Cornell Medical Schools. Her mother, Octavia Hall, was a dietician at Mass General Hospital where she met the late Mrs. Shafer's father. Ann was the youngest of four siblings, (Dr. John Smillie of Ann Arbor, Mich., Faye Westover of San Diego, Calif., and Louis Godt of Newfane, Vt.) all of whom preceded her in death. She died on June 27th at the Welsh Home in Rocky River where she received loving care for the past four years.
Ann was very energetic and enjoyed racing sail boats on the coast of her beloved summer home in Maine, swimming, playing tennis and gardening. She was a volunteer at the Western Reserve Herb Society and for years tended gardens with her sister-in-law, Sue Keebler. She loved all games and one of the things she enjoyed most at the nursing home was playing Cribbage with her grandson, Doug. Besides her family, her first love was music. When it came to music and the various art forms associated with music, Mrs. Shafer was without peer. She was a pianist, composer, singer and dancer --and affected the lives of thousands in the performance and teaching of these disciplines. She was best known for her lively renditions of the popular music of her era which she played by ear for her family, at parties and, in her earlier days, night clubs.
Mrs. Shafer attended and graduated from Oberlin College in 1946 as a piano major. It was there that she met her husband, the late Dr. William (Bill) Shafer. They were married in 1950 after a five-year courtship and returned to New York City for her husband's residency at Cornell. When there Mrs. Shafer met and was hired by the famed dance instructor, Arthur Murray. She taught at his studio in New York City where she also met Fred Astaire who appeared there as a guest instructor. Her love of dancing never wavered and years later after she and her husband moved to the Cleveland area, she opened a dance studio in Chagrin Falls where she and Dick Blake taught hundreds of young people from Chagrin Valley the art of ballroom dancing and etiquette.
Ann had a beautiful contralto voice and sang in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus for 10 years under Robert Shaw and George Szell. She also sang with the "Sweet Adelines" and was asked to tour but because of the conflict with raising young children; decided against this.
When she was in her 40s, Mrs. Shafer went back to school to pursue a Masters degree in Composition and Music Theory from the Cleveland Institute of Music under the late composer, Marcel Dick. After she was graduated, she taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music's Chagrin Falls branch for a few years and then continued to teach privately at her home. She was also an accomplished composer, composing for the piano for more than 40 years. A performance of many of her pieces was held in the Chagrin Falls Library in 2002 before a full house. During this performance she was joined by her daughters, Laurie and Tina, accomplished musicians as well.
She was predeceased by her son, Douglas Hall, who died in 1979 at Kenyon College, and her husband, Bill, who died in 2009. She is survived by her daughters, Tina, who is a musician, teacher and song writer in New York City; and her daughter, Laurie, who is a social worker on the district staff of Congressman Dennis Kucinich. In addition, she leaves a son-in-law, Jim Rokakis, of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy; and five grandchildren, Douglas, Christina, Eleni, Ari and Thomas.
Donations in Ann Shafer's memory may be made to the Cleveland Institute of Music, 11021 East Blvd., Cleveland, 44106 Attn.: Development Office. Internment arrangements are being handled by The Stroud-Lawrence Funeral Home, Chagrin Falls, OH 44022. A private luncheon in her honor was held on Saturday, June 30th in Chagrin Falls. A memorial service is planned at The Welsh Home this coming September.
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