Tonight I went to the Church of the Crossroads where I attended a memorial service for Frances Viglielmo, a former soprano in the Lutheran Church of Honolulu choir. I mentioned her name once before in my blog post called “Blue and red“, when I wrote about the “defectors”— singers who sang at St. Andrew’s Cathedral for a number of years before “defecting” to “the enemy”— the Lutheran Church of Honolulu choir as described by the late John McCreary, former organist-choirmaster of the Cathedral. You can read her obituary here.
Frances sang in the LCH choir for about twenty years under Carl Crosier, whom she sometimes called “Maestro” or “Teacher.” She had beautiful white hair which she claimed was completely natural and not out of a bottle. I remember when I got my first gray hairs in my late thirties, and she never hesitated to point them out to me!
She and her husband, Valdo Viglielmo, were united in marriage for 57 years, and now they are united in death: Valdo only died last November 14, 2016 at the age of 89. The Rev. Neal MacPherson, who gave the homily tonight in addition to giving the homily just a couple of months ago for Val, said the two just couldn’t live without each other, as Frances died on February 3, 2017. That’s only about two months apart!
Both were known for their lifelong political activism. They met in Cambridge, MA where Val attended Harvard University and Frances attended Radcliffe. From the memorial program, I read:
Frances traveled on her own to Cuba to view the effects of socialism there. Frances and Valdo worked tirelessly for peace and justice, and were awarded the Peace Prize in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1998. They helped to bring the Nagasaki Peace Bell to Honolulu. Prior to that, they also were granted one of the first Peacemaker Awards from the Church of the Crossroads.
In fact, you can thank Frances that the Compline Choir performed at a peace commemoration of the dropping of the Nagasaki nuclear bomb. Seems like she asked Carl almost every year if the choir could perform, and one year he actually made it happen.
At the memorial service, Rev. MacPherson recounted that Val had to bail Frances out of jail so many times after being arrested for peaceful protests that he had lost count, and made her promise to only get arrested once per year! In a Honolulu Star-Bulletin article titled “High court upholds trespassing conviction,” Frances was arrested for trespassing at the Toys R Us store at Ala Moana Center: “Viglielmo was given six months probation and fined $100 for refusing to leave Ala Moana Center, where she was protesting the sale of military toys on Dec. 15, 2000. She was handing out pamphlets and holding a sign outside a toy store that read, ‘Stop selling war hero toys to kids.’ “
Rev. MacPherson saw Frances on the day before she died, and asked what she wanted for her memorial service. Her requests were for the songs “Jesus loves me,” “Fairest Lord Jesus” and “Tis the gift to be simple,” which the congregation sang, accompanied on the piano by Angie Delight (my former organ student).
Frances also wanted everyone who attended the memorial to “DUMP TRUMP!” — yes, her dying words!
We’ll miss you, Frances!