Marsha Johnson Enterline, pianist, teacher, lover and benefactor of the arts, and above all, dynamic and caring friend and mother, died Sunday, July 27, 2014.
"Without music," a philosopher once wrote, "life would be a mistake." A lifelong performer and music teacher, Marsha took this advice to heart. Known for captivating audiences with her passionate playing, Marsha's lively performances of Mozart's vibrant Rondo Alla Turca ended with her hands flying off the piano in a final dramatic flourish that would leave listeners leaning forward, breathless. Student dancers at the Dayton Ballet remember how development of their timing and technique was nurtured by Marsha's choice of accompanying music, which fit each combination precisely. Hers was a life grounded in patience, but which also pulsed with style and passion. Each attribute was reflected in her playing, and in turn, her life made more graceful by her art.
Born in Shreveport, LA, she grew up learning how to make good jambalaya, gumbo with a proper roux, and of course, many casserole dishes that served her daughter's soccer teams well in later years. Her parents, the late Mildred and John Henry Johnson, taught Marsha and her sister, Marilyn (King), the benefits of good grammar, presentation, and gracious hosting skills that Marsha passed along to her daughters, Sarah and Claire. Together with their cousins, Alicia King Akins and Richard King, Sarah, and her husband Joshua Roch, and Claire, and her husband Slade Moore, will ensure that the grammatical distinction between "good" and "well" will be passed along to the next generation.
Marsha began her long career in piano performance at a young age, playing for the church choir and giving many living room recitals for her parents' friends. She sharpened her skills at Baylor University, earning a degree in piano performance. While completing her Master's degree at the University of Kansas, Marsha worked as teaching assistant, helping to guide many undergraduate performers through their own pursuits. The experience she gained teaching talented musicians would prove invaluable through the years as she continued teaching for the rest of her life.
Moving to Kansas City following graduate school, Marsha could be found performing with Kansas City Chamber Music or enchanting audiences with solo performances. Her Clair de Lune was played with such a bittersweet quality that few who heard it ever forgot the experience. Other evenings were filled with Marsha giving piano lessons to dedicated students of all ages, while her young daughters lay under the piano in rapt attention.
In Dayton, Ohio, Marsha expanded her teaching career at the Miami Valley School, giving piano lessons to many students. She also created and directed for many years the Miami Valley School's Instrumental Music Program, giving students the chance to learn many instruments and musical styles from the jazz trumpet to classical voice. Active in the Opera Guild of Dayton, Marsha served as a member of the board and coordinated and accompanied the Children's Traveling Opera.
Marsha's devotion to classical music was found in all settings. She was not above occasionally commandeering the radio tuner in a friend's car, demurely stating that she was "not a fan". Her enthusiasm for classical public radio grew over time, and in recent years Marsha served on the Board of Discover Classical, WDPR 88.1 FM. With WDPR, she took a leadership role in the Dayton Public Radio's Young Talent Search, a competition for local aspiring performers. Using her many years of experience in piano performance and music education, she served as a judge at annual competitions. Her daughters trust that she provided many students with pointed, or possibly extremely vague, but constructive criticism that they may not understand the full value of for years to come, at which point, it will change their lives.
To honor her life and love of music, her family and friends will host a celebration and remembrance at the Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park N, Dayton, OH, on Sunday, September 21 from 1-3 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to one of the many fine arts groups that Marsha supported through her life: Dayton Ballet, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Dayton Public Radio, Dayton Opera, Friends of Chamber Music (Kansas City), Kansas City Chorale, the University of Kansas Piano Department, and the Wideman Piano Competition.
The family would like to thank the staff and doctors at the Miami Valley Hospital Intensive Care Unit and at Hospice of Dayton, who supported Marsha and her family with dignity and care during her most difficult week.
"If music be the food of love, sing on." (Shakespeare, and set to song by many.)
Kettering Routsong Funeral Home
2100 E. Stroop Rd.