Longtime Buffalo and Grand Island resident Marion Alt Pinkow passed away on Friday, Jan. 13, 2012.
Born on May 18, 1914, in Buffalo, Pinkow attended School No. 60 in Buffalo, receiving the Jesse Ketchum Silver Medal for Academic Excellence in both eighth and ninth grades. She graduated from Riverside High School in 1932 and attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, where she played the cello and earned a degree in music education. After teaching music in the Buffalo schools for a brief period in the late 1930s, and beginning a family of three children, Pinkow and her husband, William, moved to Grand Island, residing for many years on Westwood Drive and also on East River Road.
The second daughter of Charles and Emma Alt, Pinkow grew up on Laird Avenue in Buffalo, spending many summers in the early 1920s living in the boathouse of the old Pierce Farm (on the West River near Long Road). Through her parents, Emma Duchscherer Alt of Buffalo and Charles S. Alt, a native of Grand Island, she was related to many of the early Grand Island families - Alts, Houcks and Longs.
Pinkow was deeply involved in the community through her activities as a choral and general music teacher in the Buffalo and Grand Island schools, through extensive involvement with Erie County and New York State School Music Teachers' organizations, as choir director and congregational member at Trinity United Methodist Church, as a member of the East Park Garden Club, and as a cellist with the Amherst Symphony and Niagara Falls Philharmonic. In 1956, she and her husband were honored by the Grand Island Kiwanis Club as "Outstanding Citizens of Grand Island." A decade later, Pinkow was named by the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce as "Outstanding Citizen of the Year (Education) for 1967.
During the mid-1960s, Pinkow served as musical director of the Island Theater Group with presentations of "The King and I" (1963), "South Pacific" (1966), "Oklahoma" (1968), "Plain and Fancy," and others. Other community activities pursued by Pinkow include participation in the Grand Island Community Chorus, chairwoman of the Buffalo Philharmonic's Grand Island fund drives, chairwoman of the PTA's Music Committee, music consultant for the Girl Scouts, superintendent of Trinity Church's Vacation Bible School (1953-56), and chairwoman of the Grand Island Community Band's uniform fundraising committee (1957).
For a time Pinkow and her late husband, "Bill," became "snow birds" living part-time in Northport, Fla., a community adopted by at least a dozen other Grand Island couples. There during the winters in Northport, they continued their passion for music through joint leadership of the Northport Chorale and participation in the Charlotte Chamber Orchestra and Northport Symphony. In 2000, owing to Bill's death and her deteriorating health, Pinkow began living full-time with her daughter and son-in-law (Christine and Paul Sipson) on Grand Island. For the past six years, she had been a resident at the Elderwood Health Care at Riverwood on Grand Island Boulevard.
Marion was predeceased by her husband, and by sisters Elizabeth Laidman Hill and Catherine Schultz. She is survived by her three children, Charles of Churchville, Pa. (m. Kathleen Neissel Pinkow [deceased]); David of Boulder, Colo. (m. Louise Dickey Pinkow); and Christine of Grand Island (m. Paul Sipson); six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned for July 15 at Trinity United Methodist Church, 2100 Whitehaven Road.