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1957 Kellie 2023

Kellie L. Malone

July 24, 1957 — March 20, 2023

South Bend

Kellie Curtis Malone, 65, passed away peacefully early Monday morning, March 20, 2023, at her home in South Bend, Indiana. She was attended in hospice by her husband Brian, Brian’s brother Tom, Kellie’s cousin Kim and brother Bart, and the compassionate staff of the Center for Hospice Care — https://cfhcare.org  — especially Holly, Laura, Amanda, Laurie, Zach, Shay, Erica, and Arlen.

Born Kellie Leigh Curtis on July 24, 1957 in South Bend, she is survived by husband Brian, siblings Bart (Sara) Curtis, Christopher Curtis, her step-mother Eva Curtis, and step-sister Michelle (Jon) Mishler. Her father, Fred Lamar Curtis, preceded her in death in 2021; her brother, Darin Michael Curtis, in 2016; her mother, Nancy Slinkard Curtis, in 2006. She is grateful to her brothers and their wives for the joy of nieces and nephews: Jackie, Chris, Erica, Michael, Hannah, Brian, Susi, and Payton.

A graduate of Nappanee, Indiana’s Northwood HS, class of 1975 and Indiana State University (B.A., Music Ed./Choral Conducting, 1980), Kellie went on to get a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance from the University of Akron in 1982. Her talent for apparently effortless music making with any number of singers led the University to hire her as its Director of Choral Activities and Director of the Akron Symphony Chorus, positions she held from 1982 until an accident left her quadriplegic in August, 1985. During this time, she was also Director of Music for the First Presbyterian Church in Akron.

Kellie and Brian shared a love of music, especially singing. After meeting at a singing workshop conducted by the Western Wind Ensemble the Summer of 1984 at SUNY Fredonia, it was five years before they were able to consider a future together. (The Western Wind Ensemble had a hand in this with workshops at Penn State during the Summers of 1988 and 1989.) They were married on May 5, 1991 at a “sit-down wedding” held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron (where Kellie conducted and Brian sang, a pattern that continued throughout their life together) using a Methodist service, presided over by their long time friend Dianne Shirey, who had just become a Congregationalist minister. Emblematic of their relationship, the reception in the church hall consisted of a dessert buffet. (Let the joy commence!)

After her accident, Kellie went on to conduct the “Calling on America” Choir for a performance in 1992 celebrating passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Wooster Symphony Chorus (1994, 96, 98, 99), and the Akron Symphony Chorus once again in the Spring of 1996 and subsequent 1996-97 season. She and Brian formed a professional chamber chorus, the Concord Singers, in 1994, and gave performances in Northeast Ohio until they moved to Arizona in 2000. Other church Music Minister positions followed, but aging and medical complications gradually limited her ability to keep up the pace and high standards she set in the 1990s.

Before their move to Arizona, Kellie and Brian were able to take part in a workshop, “Spring in the Berkshires,” held by one of their musical heroes, Alice Parker. Their friendship continues to this day.

With Kellie’s ebullient personality, it’s not surprising that a serendipitous moment could lead to Barbara Lewallen becoming a dear friend with perhaps the most interesting “how did you and Kellie meet” story. The Goshen News described it in 2017.  (https://www.goshennews.com/news/wrong-phone-number-leads-to-long-distance-friendship/article_61f4f0b9-fd3b-5ce2-86b7-41937d39470a.html)

Since 1985, attendant care has been a large part of Kellie’s life, and those special individuals who care for others’ needs continued to play a key role in Kellie and Brian’s life together. They deserve special thanks. (This is by no means a complete list.) Thank you Robin, Michelle, Vida, Rosa, Fran, Paidamoyo, Dave, LaVonta, Cara, Alexandria, Monica, Janet, Jeff, Sylvia, Mike, and Mercy!

While in Arizona, Kellie and Brian had the chance to hear the Dalai Lama and many other visiting teachers from the Tibetan Buddhist diaspora, all of which led to an encounter with Garchen Rinpoche, one of the preeminent Lamas of the Drikung Kagyü order, whom they met several times over the years at his center in Chino Valley, AZ, and which they now consider their spiritual home. Whether one considers Buddhism a religion or a way of life, when meeting an embodiment of love and compassion, it is worthwhile to pay attention. They have found it well worth their while.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 5, 2023 at the Indiana home Kellie and Brian shared since 2014 after 10 years in Ohio and 14 years in Arizona. (Details TBA. Current plans are to have access online, participation by request.)
 

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