Music 04

Dr. Suzanne Summerville

March 17, 2021


Dr. Suzanne Summerville, 83, died Wednesday, March 17, 2021 in the Whispering Knoll Assisted Living in Edison, New Jersey, surrounded by the love of her family.

Private services will be held for the family only.  A celebration of the life of Suzanne Summerville will be held on Sunday, May 16, 2021 at 2:00PM Alaska time via Zoom.  To attend the Zoom celebration, please email to be sent the Zoom link. 

The celebration of life will include reflections from her family and her friends, as well as, music contributions from Jaunelle Celaire, University of Alaska Fairbanks music chair, and Janice Trumbull, Northland Children's Choir.

In lieu of flowers, donations made be made in Suzanne’s memory to any of the following Fairbanks, Alaska charities: Northland Children’s Choir – S-I-Y Messiah; the Fairbanks Arts Association; Pet Pride or the University of Alaska Foundation – Rasmussen Library Archives Fund #20186.

Suzanne, the daughter of the late Lady Clare Gardner Summerville and the late John W. Summerville, was born in Dallas, Texas.  She was raised in Beaumont, Texas where she developed an early interest in music.  Suzanne earned a bachelor’s degree from the Randolph Macon College for Women in Lynchburg, Virginia.  She furthered her education by obtaining two master’s degrees and a PhD. in Musicology from the University of Berlin in Germany.

Suzanne was a mezzo-soprano and she sang in many opera houses throughout Europe before returning to the United States to start her career as a Professor of Music at the University of Iowa.  In 1977, Suzanne then went to teach at the University of Alaska. 

Suzanne is credited with commissioning over 160 pieces of music with many of those compositions focusing on the poetry of Alaska.  She did extensive research on the lives and music of Robert Crawford and Fanny Hensel.  Suzanne was the recipient of many grants and awards recognizing her contributions to the arts and women in music, most notably from the International Women in Music Organization.  Suzanne was the founder and director of the Fairbanks Choral Society, which produces an annual “Sing It Yourself Messiah” event.  Suzanne started this project in 1978 and it continues to this day, attracting several hundreds of community members from Fairbanks and the surrounding areas. 

Additionally, Suzanne was a member of the Fairbanks Arts Association and the International Women in Music.  In her spare time, Suzanne who had two green thumbs, was a master gardener and was also very much involved with the Fairbanks Animal Shelter.

Suzanne is survived by her spouse Kathy E. Vaupel; her brother-in-law, Ernest W. Vaupel, Jr. and his wife, Donna K. Vaupel; her nephew, Daniel Vaupel; her niece, Kate Almeida and her husband, Michael and her great nephew, Ethan Almeida.






To send flowers to Dr. Suzanne Summerville's family, please visit our floral store.


American Legion Service

Private Committal Service & Cremation


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