Lois Jean Gainer Fyfe
August 6, 1927 – June 18, 2014
Lois Jean Gainer Fyfe was born in Urbana Ohio on August 6, 1927 to Erma (Hoose) and Henry Gainer. She grew up there on the family farm with her three older siblings: Annetta, Martin, and Joseph. Lois was valedictorian of her high school graduating class in 1944 and then attended Ohio State University where she studied music and textiles. Her organ professor was Wilbur Held, who remained her friend and mentor all her life.
She moved to New York in 1949 to study organ at Columbia University with Karl Weinrich. She worked in the library at Juilliard School of Music and also did bookkeeping and was in the choir at St Michaels Episcopal Church, where the rector, William Corker, introduced her to the organist Peter Fyfe. Their first date was April 13, 1951 and they were married November 28, 1953. While in New York she also worked as an administrative secretary at Standard Oil of New Jersey.
In 1957 their daughter Catharine was born. Lois and Peter moved to Nashville January of 1959 for Peter to be organist and choir master at Christ Episcopal Church. Lois was truly Peter’s helpmate with the music program at Christ Church, including singing in the choir, and together they won much respect and acclaim at the church and throughout the music and church communities in the area. They sponsored many music events and in 1984 established an endowed scholarship in music at the Blair School of Music.
During the early 1960s Lois deciphered and typed numerous letters written to and from President James K. Polk, to be published in a series of books: Correspondence of James K. Polk, edited by Herbert Weaver. For many years she worked at Vester Music Service as a sheet music distributor, where she cultivated a very fine reputation. In 1993 she established her own company, Lois Fyfe Music, specializing in organ and sacred choral music. Her vast knowledge of these subjects, along with her incredible memory and care for detail made her an invaluable resource for customers all over the world. Her tenaciousness in searching for music in print was extraordinary. One customer commented that Lois “is a kindred spirit in musical taste, has a sense of what working as a church musician is all about, and can perform wonders with those most unpredictable of all beasts, the music publishers.” Lois Fyfe Music continues her work with Jonathan Setzer and Elizabeth Smith, who bought the store in 2009, and Michael Belote.
Lois and Peter were very generous throughout the years in sponsoring organ concerts, especially at Christ Church, and choral concerts, such as the Trinity Choir from Cambridge, UK at the 2012 national convention of the American Guild of Organists. At this same convention, Lois and Peter received the Edward Hansen Leadership Award from the AGO, recognizing “their commitment to excellence in music, unparalleled knowledge of sacred music, their roles as teachers and mentors, and their leadership, devoted service, and extraordinary generosity to the AGO.”
Lois is survived by her husband Peter, who lives in Nashville, and daughter Catharine, and grandsons Charles and Joseph who live in St Paul, Minn.
There will be visitation and a funeral service at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville on July 14; the visitation will be at 10 a.m. and the service at 11.
In memory of Lois Fyfe and in honor of Peter Fyfe by St. Matthew Episcopal Church, Ray and Nancy Fyfe Cardozier and Tim and Thirza Sloan.
The Leader (Covington, Tenn.)
Thursday, July 3, 2014