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Agnes Wolohan Smuda Von Burkleo, a mom and trainer who devoted her life to music and was recognized for her ardour and generosity, died on Aug. 10. She was 79 years previous.

Agnes grew up with 4 siblings who reveled within the time they spent throughout summers in Inverness. Agnes both visited or lived in Inverness for a lot of her grownup life, the place she taught music classes, swam avidly in Tomales Bay and hung out along with her personal youngsters. With large success as a pianist and an opera singer, she obtained a number of greater levels later in life, together with a doctorate in Irish musicology.

“She exuded music, artwork and kindness,” Meg Cadiz, her daughter, mentioned. “She was a really completely satisfied particular person. She wasn’t imply, or sad: She was at all times well mannered and sort with the ‘How are you doing?’ and greet-you-with-a-warm-smile-kind-of-spirit of generosity. She was only a darling mother. There may not have been meals, however there have been at all times artwork provides.”

Agnes was born in Berkeley on Jan. 5, 1941 to John and Margaret Wolohan. John, an Irish Catholic who was regarded as a musical prodigy as a boy and was classically skilled in piano in Manchester, immigrated to San Francisco, the place his jazz orchestra performed on the El Patio Ballroom for 4 a long time. He married Margaret, a violinist and grammar-school trainer from Ferguson, Mo., in 1938.

In 1943, Margaret and John bought a property in Inverness that had been a six-bedroom inn referred to as the Highland Lodge. It grew to become a beloved second residence. “We’d take a U-Haul, and we’d take the ferry over from Richmond,” Margaret Hope, Agnes’s sister, remembered. “Again in these days, there wasn’t a bridge. We’d get to Inverness round midnight and eat grilled cheese and tomato soup. We hated to return to Berkeley, and we’d rely the times till September.”

Margaret mentioned their days on the lodge have been full. “Agnes stored these diaries of all of the individuals who got here and went, and it was actually such an exquisite time that they had,” she mentioned. “There was loads of room for all of the cousins who wished to come back and keep. My dad labored 5 days per week on the ballroom in S.F. however on Monday and Tuesday nights, we’d have music.”

All 5 youngsters would typically carry out for his or her friends, singing and dancing whereas their father performed the piano. Margaret mentioned all of them realized to play the piano however that Agnes “had been the shining one.”

Everybody stayed up late enjoying music, which meant all of them preferred to sleep in and the household was chronically late. “We simply at all times had fun,” Margaret mentioned. But, she added, “We additionally needed to behave. We have been Catholics and we’d say the rosary across the fireplace at evening. We’d go to church in Level Reyes on Sundays and afterward go have breakfast someplace. We have been at all times late for every little thing. We’d go to the 11, not the 9 a.m. mass. And typically it was in Bolinas, and my dad can be driving so quick, so apprehensive we wouldn’t get there in time. However we might.”

Agnes attended Holy Names Faculty and met her first husband, Jim Smuda, who was attending St. Mary’s Faculty, at a dance. They have been married on the Sacred Coronary heart Church in Level Reyes Station in 1961. Agnes threw her bouquet to Margaret, who was three years youthful, honoring a secret settlement.

Agnes had all 5 of her youngsters earlier than the age of 30, and in 1970, she moved along with her younger household to Minneapolis, the place Jim had grown up. Jim, an actual property developer, retired from the trade younger and purchased a automobile wash, the place Meg mentioned she and her siblings all labored at one time or one other.

The household would go to Inverness commonly, although Agnes didn’t transfer there full time till her youngsters have been grown. In 1965, Agnes’s father died tragically when he was hit by a automobile throughout a nighttime milk errand in Berkeley; round that point, the household offered the Highland Lodge. However by 1980, Agnes and Jim purchased a house on Rannoch Manner, honoring the household custom of summering on the bay.

In the meantime, Agnes discovered herself in an exciting music scene in Minneapolis, linking up with many musical collaborators and lifelong buddies. A mezzo-soprano, she typically sang the lead for the Minnesota Opera. Minneapolis Metropolis Pages named her artist of the yr in 2006.

Along with performing, Agnes produced three CDs along with her personal compositions—Inverness, Songstories, and O, the Days of Kerry Dancing—and collaborated on quite a few different initiatives, together with a number of operas. Her buddies describe her as continuously creating via all forms of mediums—singing, writing, poetry and portray.

At a digital service for Agnes, which included a number of musical performances placed on by household and buddies, one good friend spoke of Agnes’s affect.

“She made an enormous distinction in my life. She actually had an impression on my life creatively and emotionally nearly past anybody else ever,” mentioned Larry David, a pianist who began out as her trainer at MacPhail Middle for Music in Minneapolis and would carry out along with her for a few years. 

“Straight away I keep in mind having such a very good time instructing Agnes and laughing about sure observations I’d make or she’d make, that I assumed to myself, ‘Who is that this particular person?’ I felt like after a number of classes that I needs to be paying her as a result of I felt a lot pleasure being along with her,” he mentioned. 

Agnes had forgone her undergraduate diploma to marry, however as soon as her youngsters have been older, she started pursuing levels in music on the College of Minnesota. She earned a B.A. in piano, and a grasp’s and a doctorate of musical arts, with a concentrate on Irish musicology.

Sean, Agnes’s son and an artist and photographer who collaborated together with his mom on many initiatives, mentioned her dedication to music mirrored her dedication to her relationships. “She got here from an enchanted childhood, half-Catholic, half nature-mystic, that led her to replicate on the truth of feelings and the significance of relationships. And he or she was like that with music: She was at all times on a mission to completely and deeply specific, be it with instructing youngsters piano, enjoying Christmas requirements or singing John Cage. Nobody who ever met her didn’t really feel that.”

Agnes’s daughters Sophia and Caitlin shared an identical perspective on the highly effective assist their mom provided them. 

“We, her youngsters, knew that she wasn’t like different mothers, and I’m positive it was the identical for everybody who bought to know her nicely. You simply don’t meet folks along with her infinite capability for love and kindness and giving day by day, and even in a lifetime,” Caitlin mentioned on the memorial.

“She gave and he or she gave and he or she gave—you all know what I imply,” Sophia mentioned. “A gift for everybody for each event: A track for a brand new child, a poem for a marriage, easter baskets stuffed with chocolate bunnies, sweet eggs, a e-book, a kite. And all issues wrapped exquisitely, with a number of colours and ribbons.”

Caitlin famous her mom’s extra devious aspect, together with her behavior of stealing flowers out of different folks’s gardens, and a love for buying even when there wasn’t something she wanted. Protecting meals in the home was not her specialty. “The girl by no means made a grocery record in her life. Occasionally we’d clear out the kitchen [in our house] on Circle Downs [Street], solely to search out 10 poultry seasonings, eight cream of tartars, six jellied cranberries, and 5 baking sodas. There was at all times a lot meals within the fridge and cabinets and but little or no to really eat.”

Though most of her youngsters and siblings settled elsewhere, Agnes’s sister Margaret and brother John and her daughter Meg lived in Inverness, maintaining Agnes firm for the later years of her life. She moved full time to Inverness in 2005, after Jim handed away in 1993.

As soon as in Inverness, Agnes married Robert Von Burkleo, a sailor who had labored within the circulation division for the San Francisco Chronicle in his earlier years. “They have been goofy and cute collectively,” Meg mentioned. “They’d paint collectively. They wrote a cute e-book about Spain and he painted and he or she wrote it. They loved being collectively.”

Agnes taught piano and voice classes at West Marin and Inverness Faculties and continued to publish her poetry. Toby’s Feed Barn would host recitals by her college students within the gallery house.

The life she in-built Inverness was full of most of the identical joys of her childhood. She sang; she gathered her family and friends; she swam.

“She beloved Inverness, she beloved West Marin, she beloved Tomales Bay—she beloved the jellyfish,” Meg mentioned. “This was her non secular place.”

A track she launched in 2013 describes that love: “Inverness, Inverness, you’re in my eyes and coronary heart/And Inverness, Inverness, I’ve beloved you from the beginning/ Inverness, Inverness, you lie down beside the bay/ Summers come and summers go/ You’re nonetheless within the fog of recollections/ For in your sunlit, salty breeze/ You play with me, stick with me/ Inverness, Inverness.”


Agnes spent her closing years in Portland. She is survived by three of her siblings, John, Margaret and Rosemary; her youngsters Sean, Sophia, Meg, Bebhinn and Caitlin and her stepchildren, Christian and Peggy; and her grandchildren, Kamela, Alexandra, Falon, Ianto, Connor and Declan. Discover Agnes’s album, referred to as Inverness, at


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