Lois E. Dasher Chism
A singer and performer to her core, Lois Elaine Schauer Toman Dasher Chism, 92, died Tuesday morning, March 21, 2017, at Harmar Place in Marietta, Ohio.
Lois, the eldest child and only daughter of Walter Ernest Schauer and Laura Irion Schauer, was born January 29, 1925, in Chicago, Illinois. She graduated from Steinmetz High School in Chicago, then, as it was the height of the WWII effort, she went to work as a secretary for Zenith Radio Corp. Lois had been singing in her Lutheran church choir and with a girl trio for years, but that year, in 1943, at the age of only 18, she took the huge step of entering as a solo act in the 14th Annual Chicagoland Music Festival … which would be roughly akin to being on “American Idol” today. She performed on stage at Soldier Field stadium in front of a crowd of well over 100,000 and sang “My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice” from the opera “Samson and Delilah” by Saint-Saens. She won the competition with her clear and powerful contralto voice and vivid performance.
But winning the competition did not give her an automatic entree into a career as a singer. Under the encouragement of her Grandmother Emma Irion, she left Chicago to study music and voice first at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., then at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she received a full scholarship. She was particularly proud that her talent, hard work and determination won her a place at the prestigious Curtis Institute, an internationally acclaimed music school, which is known for having one of the lowest acceptance rates of any institute of higher learning in the world.
Soon after she completed her music schooling, Lois left for Europe. She worked for a while as Program Director for the Military Special Services office in Vienna. She continued singing lessons with a private tutor, eventually extending her range to become a mezzo-soprano. Lois was nothing if not determined. She worked on her voice and auditioned for opera roles, eventually winning the part of Dorabella in Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte.” Her hard work paid off and she went on to perform all over Europe. During her long career, she learned and sang over 70 different roles in various operas and operettas.
Lois retired from professional singing in the early 1970s, but she continued to perform, acting in several German TV dramas and soap operas. She loved making as much in one day on TV as she did in a week of singing on stage, but it was not what she wanted as a second career. She decided to put her organizational talents to work and started running the Meals on Wheels program for the city of Munich. During her 12 years as director of the program, they went from having one kitchen serving 220 meals daily to four kitchens around the city, serving over 900 people daily.
After living in Europe and Germany for over 40 years, Lois, now retired, moved back to the U.S. in 1992 and settled in Hot Springs Village, Ark. She was a long-time member of Christ Lutheran Church in Hot Springs Village and sang in their choir, as well as in the local Cedar Mountain Singers group, until advancing Parkinson’s disease stole her voice.
Lois survived all three of her husbands; Lee L Toman, Joseph Dasher, and Arthur O. Chism, as well as her only sibling, Walter E Schauer Jr. She is survived by her son, Mark P. Dasher and his wife Kim van Rijn as well as two grandsons, Julian J. Dasher (Ashley) and Matthew M. Dasher and two great-grandchildren, Sophia J. Dasher and Maximus J. Dasher.
A memorial service for Lois will be held at Christ Lutheran Church in Hot Springs Village, Ark., on April 12, 2017, at 11 a,m. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to either the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research or to the Curtis Institute of Music.