Lois Lindt died December 23, 2013 in Santa Barbara, at the venerable age of 98 years. After playing classical music- from Bach to Debussy- for most of those years, and charming just about everyone she met – Lois’s heart gave out, and she died peacefully in her sleep.
But this week is her 100th birthday. Lois was born 100 years ago, on September 29, 1915, in Chicago IL, to Sam and Mabel Keck, while Sam was studying at Chicago Theological Seminary. The family then moved to Deadwood, S.D, in the Black Hills, where Sam had his first parsonage at the Congregational Church. Lois’s younger siblings, ‘the twins’—Elinor and Sam, Jr., were born a few years later. The family moved to Watertown, SD and then to Huron, where Lois grew up and graduated from high school in 1933.
Childhood summers were spent in the beautiful Black Hills, and Lois related so many fond memories, including as a teen sitting on a hillside watching the building of Mt. Rushmore. She continued to spend many wonderful vacations there with Elinor’s family and friends from the Black Hills Playhouse, right up until the last few years of her life.
Lois studied classical music from a young age, and deeply loved the piano. While she loved her musical studies at Yankton College, she ultimately took a minor there in music performance. Lois had an empathetic heart and a practical bent, and chose to major in Social Work. She then earned her Masters degree in Social Work at Washington University, in St. Louis.
It was there that Lois met a handsome young German Jewish immigrant, Hendrik Lindt, who by all accounts swept her off her feet. Lois Elaine Keck married Hendrik Lindt in 1941, in Huron, South Dakota—the ceremony officiated over by her father, Dr. Keck. Over the years the couple raised three children, John born in 1946, Josephine born in 1951, and Peggy in 1955.
From wildly different backgrounds, somehow the couple’s worldviews seemed to mesh, and their children followed suit, pursuing paths in thearts, medicine and public policy. John reports, writes, and publishes on current environmental and business concerns in California, Josephine works with families and children as a developmental pediatrician, and Peggy has become an accomplished artist and illustrator.
The family lived in all parts of the United States, but in 1966 they were thrilled to settle in Santa Barbara, where they had bought a cozy, oak-studded home; Hendrik was also able to indulge his life-long love of sailing. Lois loved the house’s bird-filled canyon setting, and lived out most of her life there.
Both Hendrik and Lois were involved in the helping professions. Lois did social work, centered on helping children through work in the fields of adoption and developmental disabilities. Before retirement from work with the County of Santa Barbara in 1976, Lois was involved in creating state programs and services for those with developmental disabilities as a member of the Area Board for the Santa Barbara region. Hendrik’s career was deeply involved in the development of group therapy services; in Santa Barbara, he worked as a psychiatric social worker and therapist for the County, and had a private psychotherapy practice.
But Hendrik passed away in 1969. Lois soldiered on, with the two girls still in their teens at home, and John away in graduate school. Thankfully, Lois’s sister Elinor with husband Leroy (Hap) Haberman and their son Jim had also settled nearby in Ventura and provided much needed love, fun, and support through the years. A trip to England together in the 1976 wasa dream come true for everyone. Mom lost her dear sister Elinor in 2012; brother Sam had passed away many years earlier– too early!—in 1972.
In retirement, Lois was free to pursue her deep love of music, and she continued to play the piano. She stayed involved in community affairs through her work with the League of Women Voters as well. Adventures and road trips to the Sierras, the redwoods, and to the Black Hills with family and friends were frequent throughout the years. Being out in Nature meant the world to Lois, and even as the drives into the country became shorter and shorter throughout the years, they nourished her soul.
But music was her passion. Lois was involved in chamber music groups, and enjoyed the thriving classical music scene of Santa Barbara for thepast 40 years. She never missed the Music Academy of the West’s summer programs, particularly loving Jerome Lowenthal’s piano masterclasses. Even in her last summer, she attended the Pianofest there, and was able to attend one more master class, despite increasing weakness and fatigue. Her last years were spent at Maravilla retirement community, where she was able to give Christmas Carol recitals for her fellow retirees, up until her last Christmas there.
Lois’s children and grandchildren still mourn her loss, and find so precious the memories of her playing Debussy’s Claire de Lune—a favorite—as well as Bach, Beethoven, and Dvorak. Best for us, though, was being awakened on our birthdays by her playing Happy Birthday on the piano-or on a wedding day, hearing Mendelssohn’s Wedding March played along with our morning coffee. Singing carols around the piano on
Christmas Eve was the most delightful tradition of all.
Now on the 100th Anniversary of her birth—we salute you, Lois! We miss you, and love you always, darling!
-Jo and Mark, Peg and Eric, and John and Marge, grandkids Berkeley (Meghan) and Rachel (Kevin) – and Hap, Jim, and Sharon Haberman, our dearest uncle and cousins
Photo by friend Steve Baldwin