Most people in Ypsilanti know about Pease Auditorium, the center of musical performances at Eastern Michigan University. Fewer know the life story of the remarkable citizen this building is named for––Frederic Henry Pease. Pease was born in 1839 in a log cabin in the wilderness of Ohio, but obtained an excellent classical European education. He is known today not only for major contributions as an educator, author, composer, performer and teacher, but as a man who thought beyond the box and helped to further enrich an already vibrant Victorian Ypsilanti community with his gift for music and his imaginative outlook. He also laid the foundation for the teaching of music by publishing textbooks on the subject for college music students.
Pease fathered nine children and, following his death in 1909, was remembered by his friends and students and by ordinary citizens, as a kind man with a good sense of humor. During my research for this article, I discovered a five-page handwritten document in which Pease highlights some of the events of his productive life. It’s not often that a “ghost from the past” helps write an article for the GLEANINGS, but that document will serve as the basis for what you are about to read. I have enriched the narrative with materials from various books, publications, and university and family records, and also with the kind assistance of several Pease descendants.
Frederic Pease begins his narrative by tell ing us a little about his family. In about 1634, his family emigrated from England to Salem, Massachusetts as part of the Puritan migration. The Pease family was notable for its honesty, integrity and community involvement, virtues which were later reflected in Frederic Pease’s own character. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register records an example of the moral character of Frederic’s grandfather, Phineas Pease, who was a tanner and shoemaker, and had been a musician in the Revolutionary War. In purchasing land from an Indian, Phineas paid part of the agreed purchase price immediately, but still owed a large remainder. The Indian came to Phineas with the written agreement and asked him to keep it, since he would be gone for a time and wanted the document kept safe. Phineas tried to talk the Indian out of this arrangement, telling him that it was not a good way to do business, since he could easily be cheated out of his due. The Indian, however, insisted that he completely trusted and respected Phineas Pease and that the document would be safest in his possession. That trust was vindicated when the Indian returned. Phineas gave him back the paper and the money owed was eventually paid.
Peter Pindar Pease, Frederic’s father, was born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1795, the eighth of 12 children of Betsey Lawrence and Phineas Pease. As a young man, Peter traveled west from Massachusetts and, on July 12, 1821, married Ruth H. Crocker, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, in the wilderness of Brownhelm, Ohio. Peter tells us in his own words of his early history as a pioneer: “In the fall of 1816, at the age of 21-and-a-half years, I left Stockbridge, my native place, to seek my fortune in the West and settled in what is now called Brownhelm, then an entire wilderness, and known as Town No. 6 in the nineteenth range of the Connecticut Western Reserve. Three young men of us built the first house in town, and wintered there in the employ of Col. Henry Brown of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. From whence a colony was formed of about twenty families, who settled the town, enjoying the pleasures and suffering the privations of a pioneer life, common to all new settlements. I, with my family of five children, left Brownhelm in April, 1833, for the express purpose of commencing the Oberlin enterprise (in) dense forest, and thus took a second trial of pioneering, which was much shorter than the first, and I have been an eye-witness to what God hath wrought in and for this place, and for this great valley of the Mississippi, and do praise and magnify his name.”
There is an interesting family story, passed down through the generations, regarding the oxen-pulled wagon trip made from Brownhelm by Peter Pease and his family, which led to the founding of Oberlin College, the first co-ed college on the continent. It seems that Peter’s wife, Ruth Crocker Pease, had had a dream about founding the college, which she believed to be a message from God. After the wagon carrying the Pease family had traveled many miles through the woods, it came to a place Ruth had seen in her dream. There the wagon stopped, and the pioneers aboard disembarked to begin the project of building a college and a new community. Peter’s nephew, young Alonzo Pease, had accompanied the Pease family on its trip. He grew up to become a noted American artist, who, among many other works, painted portraits of several Pease family members, including the one shown here of Peter Pindar Pease, now on display at Oberlin College.
Time magazine credits Peter Pindar Pease with being the first settler on 500 acres of land claimed by Jean Frederick Oberlin, who envisioned building on the site an institution designed for “the diffusion of useful science, sound morality, and pure religion."
In an article about the “History of Oberlin College,” published November 2, 2007, we read that “In the spring of 1833, the first settler, Peter Pindar Pease, built his log house at the center of Oberlin. That December, 29 men and 15 women students began classes in the Oberlin Collegiate Institute.” Two years later circulars describing Oberlin noted that “youths are received as members irrespective of color.” As a result, by the turn of the century, one-third of all African-American graduates of predominately white institutions in the United States had graduated from Oberlin. Furthermore, in 1841, four women graduates from Oberlin were the first ever in America to receive AB degrees.
Peter helped to make his wife Ruth’s dream a reality by his physical labor. Patricia Murphy of Oberlin College, who is Director of the college’s Heritage Center, was interviewed by The Chronicle Telegram in 2010. Murphy offers additional details about Peter Pease’s role in establishing the college, a distinction later captured in the portrait painted in 1842 by his nephew Alonzo and donated to the college by a family member. Murphy states that during this time Peter was living in a log cabin. He had arrived by ox team with his wife and five children on April 19, 1833, There is an interesting family story and immediately started to clear the land, along with others who had joined the Pease family as pioneers of the Oberlin Colony. Pease helped to construct the buildings of the college, the town, and the church. It was during this time Frederic Henry Pease was born, on August 24, 1839. He was the seventh of 12 children of Peter and Ruth. He was five years old when the picture of his father was painted by his cousin, so we can assume that, like Abraham Lincoln, Frederic Henry Pease was born in the humble enclosure of a log cabin.
The Life of Frederic Pease
Frederic Pease gives us an account of his life as a child in the Oberlin wilderness in a narrative penned in his own hand, in the third person, on his own Normal State College stationary. Some of the material in the Pease account is the same as that included in a later article about Pease ascribed to Austin George, which appeared in a 1900 book, compiled by Daniel Putnam, entitled The History of the Michigan State Normal. It is my guess that Pease provided George his own account to serve as source material for the later article. In his own third-person narrative, Pease writes: “Music has always been a prominent feature in the curriculum of Oberlin and the young Frederic Pease received his education. He sang in the celebrated Oberlin choir before his voice changed and afterward played the violin in the same choir. Later, in his early manhood he studied with B. F. Baker, a well known musician at that time and also with B. J. Lang, both of the leading musicians of Boston. Mr. Pease (meaning himself) tells how, when he was a small boy, a singing school was started at his home and how he finally persuaded his father to give him the money to join. But there was a book to buy and the money for that he had to earn himself. He asked a farmer to let him ride on his horse while he was plowing. It was hard work. The farmer was particular about having the horse go very close to a certain tree standing in the field and every time the tree was passed the boy’s legs rubbed against the rough bark. It was painful, but in the end the dollar mastered and Pease took his first singing lessons.” Although Pease does not mention it in his autobiographical sketch, he also learned as a young man to play the piano forte.
More is written about Pease’s early exposure to music in an article entitled “Dedication of New Normal Auditorium Gives Life to Memory of Eminent Musician and Beloved Citizen,” published in the Ypsilantian newspaper on June 23, 1915. The reporter tells us: “The family environment in those early years did not include opportunity for hearing music nor encouragement in its study, but he (meaning Frederic) was even when a child precociously musical, and his brother Walter was called by the Indians the ‘wood dove’ because of his voice. When a mere lad he attempted the construction of a violin, and he once asserted that the first joy of his life was when permitted to turn the leaves of music for a violin player. Practicing on the organ at Oberlin, though a deeply coveted privilege, was one that did not fall to the aspiring lad. In after years he was greeted in his home town with an enthusiasm which must have been very consoling. Through determined application, availing himself of such opportunities as arose, he had attained some measure of ability when, at the age of eighteen Prof. E. M. Foote, a familiar name to Ypsilanti people, came into his life.”
In his own third-person account, Frederic writes: “Mr. Pease did his first teaching at Meadville, Pennsylvania at the age of sixteen. Later he taught pupils in music at Oberlin.” Additional details on Pease’s early life are found in an article in the Michigan Library Bulletin for March/ April, 1926. We read that “at the age of eighteen he left Oberlin and traveled with Professor E. M. Foote, holding musical conventions until 1859, when he settled in Ypsilanti as teacher of the piano.” The same year he married a beautiful young student at the Normal, Josephine A. Dolson. Josephine’s parents were Ann Eliza Stevens and Leviticus Euphrates Dolson. Levi’s father was a trader born in Canada. He was a tanner and fur trader and contemporary of Father Gabriel Richard, who was a friend, and very influential in the founding of Detroit and Michigan. It is said that he looked so much like Father Richard that he posed for a statue of that influential priest.”
In his article, Austin George tells us that “In December, 1863, he (Pease) was appointed Professor of Music in the Normal School, which position he has held with marked success, until the present time.” (“The present time” is probably 1900, when the George article about Pease appeared in the History of the Michigan State Normal.) “For the purpose of preparing himself more thoroughly for his work,” George continues, “he spent the year 1863 in Boston under the instruction of the best teachers that city afforded. When he returned to Ypsilanti in 1864 he was given the position of the chairman of the music department at the Michigan State Normal School. The harmonium (pump organ) was the only instrument in the school. Through the Musical Union, in connection with the Normal choir, a better class of music was presented to the people and musical interest spread throughout the state. Better music was demanded and better teachers … (were) made part of the regular course in the Normal.”
About 1874 Pease purchased a beautiful rosewood square grand piano for the Normal and selected an identical one for his friend, Frederick Swaine, a maltster and a prominent Ypsilanti citizen who had just built a fine home at North River and East Forest in Ypsilanti. Both men were participants in musical performances and conducted vocal music in Ypsilanti; they also later became founders of the Musical Union. Frederic Pease referred to his friend Frederick Swaine as “The Father of Classical Music in Michigan’, citing him for his influence in selecting music for performances. The square grand piano at the Normal is long gone and forgotten. However, I am glad to say, as writer of this piece and long-time occupant of the Swaine House, that I was able to purchase with the home itself in 1965 the very piano Frederic Pease selected for Frederick Swaine––which is identical to the one Pease himself purchased for the Normal in 1874. We had the piano restored to its original condition by dint of the love, determination, talent, and prayer of an 88- year-old blind man and his wife. It graces our parlor in the Swaine House to this day, and whenever I pass by it, I’m reminded of both Freds, Pease and Swaine, and their passion for music.
Educating Teachers on How Music Should Be Taught
Frederic Pease was chairman of the music department at the Michigan State Normal College, but he had another great interest. Because music was a required course for graduation, Pease wanted to make sure students were instructed in the art as effectively as possible. At the time no textbooks were available to assist teachers, so Pease took it upon himself to write one, along with several other books on music and his own compositions. Austin George writes this in his article on Pease in The History of the Michigan State Normal: “In the field of authorship, Professor Pease’s labors have been voluminous and successful. He is joint author of The Western Bell and sole author of The Musical Lyra, both published by Ditson & Co., of Boston. He is also author of The Crystal, published by S. Brainard of Cleveland, and joint author with Walter Hewitt of a Harmony Manual. His latest book (in about 1900), Pease’s Singing Book, published by Ginn & Co., Boston, is now the regular text-book in the Michigan Normal. He wrote the cantata, “The Old Clock on the Stairs,” published by Whitney of Detroit, which he had the honor of conducting in Italy with the pupils of Madame Filippi, and which the Italian critical musical journal, Artistico Mundo, spoke of in terms of high commendation. He has also written an operetta “Enoch Arden,” which has been performed several times and received with marked favor, but which has not yet been published.”
Other Musical Activities
All of this output, however, failed to exhaust Frederic’s creative energies. He performed as an organist for a church in Jackson, Michigan for seven years; for another church in Detroit for 15 years; and for a church in Ypsilanti for five years. In an article entitled “Michigan Musicians,” in the Michigan Library Bulletin for March/April, 1926, we learn these additional details about Pease’s career: “He was also president of the Michigan Music Teachers’ Association, three times. In addition to his teaching in the Normal and to the establishing of the Conservatory and raising it to a high rank among kindred institutions he taught voice culture and singing nine years in the Detroit Conservatory of Music; had charge of the work at Bay View for three years; and was educator at the National summer School of Chicago. Mr. Pease organized the Ypsilanti Musical Union in 1870 which was long a flourishing society and which was finally absorbed in the Normal choir, whose concerts were the musical event of the college and the town and which still rank very high under the direction of his successor, Prof. Frederick Alexander…” We also learn in the “Michigan Musicians” article that, while Pease was recognized as a king among conductors, he was also well known as a composer and a compiler of musical works. Among his compositions are the following: “Charge Them That are Rich,” “The Crystal,” “He is There,” “Life’s Story,” “The Old Clock on the Stairs,” “Pilgrim and Stranger,” “Psalm of Life,” “Reaper and Flowers,” “Remember Thy Creator,” “Te Deum Laudamus,” and “When the Heart is Young.”
The Impact on Ypsilanti
Frederic Pease did much to enrich the community of Ypsilanti. A major contribution was the Ypsilanti Musical Union, which Pease helped organize in 1870 with his friend Frederick Swaine. Austin George offers these details about the Musical Union: “Walter Hewitt was the pianist, and Professor Pease was the first conductor, and so continued during the fifteen years of life of the society. This was one of the finest organizations ever formed in the West, and did wonders for musical culture all over the State. A mere mention of some of the selections rendered will give an idea of the character of the work done: there were given the “Messiah”… , “The Creation,” and “Elijah” and “St. Paul”…, the operas “Martha,” “Bohemian Girl,” “Chimes of Normandy” and “Pinafore”; also Mozart’s “Twelfth Mass,” Mercadente’s “Four-Voiced Mass,” Haydn’s “Second,” and Gounod’s “St. Cecilia Mass.”
Professor Pease’s friend and co-founder of the Ypsilanti Musical Union, Frederick Swaine, who had had an excellent musical education in London before he emigrated to Ypsilanti, wrote a review of the opera “Martha,” conducted by Pease and performed the evenings of December 9 and 10, 1875. Swaine wrote: “It was a great undertaking being the first time that an opera on the same scale has been given by amateurs in this state. The performance from beginning to end ran smoothly and without a flaw reflecting credit on Professor Pease and others connected with the training. The chorus was exceptionally good and has been highly praised by visitors from other cities both for the singing and acting.”
The Ypsilanti Musical Union was so successful that by 1880 the Ypsilanti Opera House was built as a venue for its performances. In The Story of Ypsilanti, written in 1923 by Harvey C. Colburn, we read about the Opera House: “The building was of exceptional tastefulness and beauty for the period. The material was red brick with black brick facings, the structure being surmounted by a dome, and this by ornamental iron work. The interior was of considerable beauty. The ceiling decorations included the medallion portraits of Longfellow, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Byron, Scott, and very properly, in the company of these notables, Ypsilanti’s own Professor Frederic H. Pease.”
The photograph of the Ypsilanti Musical Union performing H.M.S. Pinafore at the Ypsilanti Opera House, while Pease was studying music in Europe in 1882, shows an honorary picture of the conductor placed on the podium in front. You will also see his friend, Frederick Swaine, who played the role of Sir Joseph Porter, at the far upper left.
Education in Europe
Professor Pease had never graduated from college and believed that he needed to further his education in Europe under the finest musicians of the time. In 1881 he was granted leave from his position at the Normal to pursue that education. Austin George writes the following about this episode of Pease’s life: “Entering upon his work at the Normal in 1864, the duties, responsibilities, and possibilities of the position soon convinced him that he needed a culture and training not to be found in this country; and so under ‘leave of absence’ he went abroad to study with the masters of Germany and Italy, and to make inspection of European schools and methods of teaching. In Germany he entered the Kings Conservatory, Dresden, and was a pupil of Herr Professor Gustav Scharfe, and of Herr Jannssen, on the piano and organ, and also of Herr Pohl in composition and counterpoint. In Italy, he studied at Milan, as a pupil of the celebrated San Giovanni and of Madame Fillippi. He visited the schools of Switzerland and of England, especially London, inspecting the methods of teaching, and he visited the principal cities of Italy, such as Naples, Rome, Florence and Venice, to hear operas and concerts.”
A Warm and Humorous Man
Despite all of his culture and education, Professor Pease was recognized by all who knew him as a warm and humorous man. Nora B. Harsh was one of his students and a graduate of the Normal in 1892. She remembered this about Pease when she was in her mid-80s: “Frederic H. Pease was a teacher’s teacher. He studied in Europe with every great voice…. He knew every method in the world, and brought these ideas to his pupils. He taught singing as a science before he did as an art, thus the voice lasted. Due to his teaching, two voice teachers with studios in the Fine Arts Building (both had studied in Europe) came to me for lessons. One said, ‘You have a gorgeous voice. I want to learn how it is done.’ (I was 83.) “I started piano with Mr. Pease (he didn’t want to be called professor) when I was eleven and was in his care until I graduated at both the conservatory and Normal in 1892, twelve years. Such a handsome man, and sarcastic. He would assemble pupils who were to give a recital and admonish them, ‘Look at the audience. Don’t watch me. I can play the accompaniments without your help. And you needn’t carry a handkerchief – it won’t hold you up, but if you have a pretty fan, I suppose you will carry it. Don’t pay any attention how you sing your song, except the first note, because all will be matching, and the last note, so to get applause.’ I could write a book about Frederic H. Pease, but all of the above, because I hope it will never be forgotten that he was great!”
I have a recording made by Frederick Swaine’s daughter, Jesse Swaine, when she was over 80 years old. In it, she reads a letter that Professor Pease had written to her father from Germany in 1881, telling him of his travels and study. The letter is filled with humor and warmth, and much teasing. Pease seems to be enjoying the atmosphere of the German beer houses as much as any high culture––perhaps partly in jest with Fred Swaine, who was a maltster by trade in Ypsilanti. In any case, Pease looked forward to returning to Ypsilanti, and it is apparent that he is very enthusiastic about his various projects there, including the choir and Musical Union.
Two Happy Marriages Frederic Pease seemed to be blessed with much harmony in his personal, as well as his professional, life. On November 7, 1859, the year that he settled in Ypsilanti, he married Josephine Antoinette Dolsen, who died on November 19, 1877, after giving birth to the couple’s eighth child. Upon her death, the newspaper The Ypsilantian commented that Josephine’s “loveliness of face and character” had become Ypsilanti “traditions.” An obituary in The Ypsilantian of November 24, 1877 states simply: “Died, [Josephine A. Pease, daughter of Levi E. Dolson of Detroit and beloved wife of Professor Frederick H. Pease, November 19, 1877, age 37 years. Mrs. Pease was married in 1859, having been a student at the Michigan State Normal School. She and her husband united with the Episcopal Church. She leaves five children, the oldest a daughter of 15.” The eldest daughter referenced in the obituary later became a noted musician in her own right. The Episcopal Church is St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on North Huron Street. When his wife died, Pease had a stained glass window – now (2012) in storage -- made for the church in her honor.
One of Frederic and Josephine’s sons, Marshall, remembered several incidents from his childhood, which were recorded in an undated Detroit newspaper story. He tells the reporter that as a child he often took the train into Detroit with his father, where Frederic went weekly in order to play the organ for the Unitarian Church. “Sometimes there would be a sumptuous dinner at the Antisdel House or the Michigan Exchange. An indulgent grandfather (Levi Dolsen, who was on the Detroit Public Schools school board and lived in the city) would generally endow him with a dollar on these expeditions. This money would be lavishly expended in excursions on the street cars and an occasional foray to the tower of the city hall.” Marshall tells of a funny incident that happened, when he was a young lad, in Ypsilanti. He was required to pump the organ at St. Luke’s Church while his father was giving an organ lesson to a woman student. It was a hot day for October and Marshall was wearing his red flannel, onepiece winter underwear. As he pumped the bellows full of air he became hotter and hotter and started to remove the layers of clothing he was wearing. He thought it would be a good idea to rid himself of the itchy and warm, long underwear and as he was removing them, his head somehow got stuck in the clothing. He couldn’t help a muffled scream. The Victorian lady pupil came running to his aid and pulled the stuck garment off of him and fled the church.
The writer of this article, George W. Stark, goes on to tell us that, as an adult, Marshall Pease was “made a life honorary member of the Guild of Former Pipe Organ Pumpers” and his written citation proclaimed that he was the “only nude organ-pumper in the entire organization.”
Frederic Pease married a second time ten years later in 1887, to an Abbie Hunter from Kalamazoo. As reported again in The Ypsilantian: “At Kalamazoo,” the notice reads, “occurred the marriage of Miss Abbie J. Hunter, a former Normal Conservatory student to Prof. F. H. Pease. After a trip to Detroit, they will take up residence in the Professor’s home on Congress Street (in Ypsilanti). A magnificent floral design consisting of a wish-bone and standard (the latest conceits for wedding offerings), has been received here from Detroit by the Normal choir. It will be forwarded to Kalamazoo to be presented with compliments and congratulations of the choir to Prof. Pease and his bride.”
The End of a Creative Life In 1901, Frederic and Abbie, with their daughter Helen, who had been born in Ypsilanti in 1889, moved into a 5000-squarefoot residence at 35 South Summit Street. It was in this home that Fred Pease died, on March 22, 1909. The newspaper headline was stark: “PROF. F. H. PEASE IS DEAD – WELL LOVED HEAD OF THE NORMAL CONSERVATORY PASSED AWAY MONDAY NIGHT – Had Been Ill Five Weeks – Heart Failure was Immediate Cause of Death” The story under the headline offers details on Pease’s demise: “Prof. Pease was taken ill about five weeks ago with jaundice. It was supposed that he was recovering but Saturday night his heart gave out. A consultation of doctors including Dr. Britton, his family physician, Dr. Vaughan, and Dr. Flinterman of Detroit, was held and it was decided to operate Tuesday but his condition changed suddenly and the end came unexpectedly Monday night.” The article also notes that Frederic, at the time of his death, was worried about his wife Abbie’s health and that she was in a sanitarium. His youngest daughter Helen was in school in New York.
The obituary offers information about Pease’s long career and accomplishments, and includes a statement from a colleague at the Normal College, a Professor Strong, which expresses the highest praise: “The sudden death of Professor Pease this morning will be received everywhere with the greatest surprise and grief. Few men in the state - almost none in his profession - were more widely known or more highly esteemed. During the forty-six years since he came to Ypsilanti as a young man to take charge of the music department of the Normal school he has sent out from this institution a host of young people full of enthusiasm for good music and grateful to him for the help and inspiration which he had given them. What mourning there will be today throughout the State, and far beyond its borders over the loss of the beloved teacher, and friend; and how many voices will be heard humming again the music that he taught them years ago and which they will never forget. In the college itself Professor Pease will be most deeply mourned. He was the senior member of the faculty and as greatly beloved for his personal qualities as he was honored for his devotion to his noble art.”
One of Pease’s students, Grace Madison, learned of Frederic’s death and the next day took his chipped and well-worn conductor’s baton from a music stand as a memento of her beloved teacher. She kept and “cherished” the baton as a keepsake, but her conscience ultimately got the better of her. In September, 1948, college authorities received the baton as a gift from the former student.
In a 1949 Ypsilanti newspaper article, headlined “Baton of Frederic H. Pease among Centennial Keepsakes,” Madison is quoted as saying, “I knew eventually, that [the baton] should be returned to the college.” The thrust of the article, however, was to promote a centennial pageant to be staged by the Normal College in commemoration of Professor Pease. We read that a Professor Haydn Morgan, then the conservatory director, “has the baton now and will use it (on May 19, 1949) to conduct a rendition of Prof. Pease’s arrangement of ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ as part of a historical pageant presentation. Prof. Morgan describes the instrument as short and heavy and chipped slightly on one end. Though noticeably aged, it is not too far fetched to conjecture that it might be the same baton that conducted renditions of ‘The Creation,’ an oratorio by Haydn, which Prof. Pease instituted as an annual campus tradition during his lifetime, and which will be especially presented in memoriam during the centennial under the baton of Prof. Morgan.”
Thirty-six years earlier, on June 22, 1909, at Normal Hall, three months after Pease’s death, the Normal College had honored his life with a presentation of music and tributes entitled “Exercises in Memory of the Late Professor Frederic H. Pease.” We read in the program for the event that “The selections composing the…program were taken from Professor Pease’s own compositions. They are the ones in which he was especially interested. The program is as follows: 1. “A Psalm of Life,” then a prayer; 2. “Remember Now Thy Creator,” followed by a Memorial Address by Rev. Reed Stuart of Detroit, a Pastor’s Tribute by Rev. Wm. Gardam, and a Faculty Tribute by Prof. E. A. Strong. 3. Performances of “Ships That Pass in the Night” and “Life’s Story,” finished by 4.“The Lord’s Prayer.” Frederic was survived by his wife Abbie, who moved to Kalamazoo, worked as a librarian and died in 1953 at the age of 88; their daughter Helen Helen Pease Crisp; and five of the eight children born to his first wife Josephine. The children included Jessie Pease, who became a noted musician and world traveler; Ruth Pease Johnson of Toronto; Max L. Pease, then living in Poplar Bluff, Mo.; Marshall J. Pease of Detroit, who was a music teacher in the Detroit Public Schools; and Frederick I. Pease of Chicago.
On June 22, 1915, the newly built Pease Auditorium was dedicated and named for this beloved member of the Normal College faculty who was so instrumental in forming the basis of a musical education for all. Among the many testimonials to Frederic Pease’s extraordinary qualities and accomplishments, one stands out that is perhaps the most germane of all. It is this moving tribute to his teaching abilities and warmth: “As a teacher he invested every subject with charm. So inspiring were his classes dealing with public school methods that a great impetus was given that teaching throughout the state. Seating himself at the piano he would illustrate and illuminate a point in his theory classes with clever improvisations.”
Pease Auditorium too was one of Frederic’s dreams. It was made a reality in 1915, and has been the showplace ever since for local and international talent that continues to make fine music available to the citizens of Ypsilanti. In providing that service, Pease Auditorium is a fitting testament to Frederic H. Pease, whose lifelong mission was to introduce the common people to good music that would enrich and inspire their lives.
(Jan Anscheutz is a regular contributor to the GLEANINGS.]