Obituary of Katherine Marshall Lawler
February 26, 2018
Katherine Marshall Lawler was born on August 13, 1925 in Modesto, California to her loving parents, Olivia and Manuel A. Marshall. She was raised on her father's dairy ranch at the foot of the scenic western San Joaquin Valley foothills south of Gustine. As a child she enjoyed rural life on the family farm in this agricultural and ranching region along with her two brothers, Griffith O. Marshall and David A. Marshall. When she was a teenager, the family moved from Gustine to Escalon and her parents continued the dairy farming profession.
Katherine became an accomplished musician at a young age and played the mandolin as a professional musician on San Joaquin Valley radio broadcasts at the young age of nine years old. She soon concentrated her studies on the piano, additionally studying violin and guitar, and playing the harmonica for fun. In 1939, as a teenager, she was winner of a National Piano Talent Competition and was given the honor of performing at the World's Fair at Treasure Island.
During the mid-1940's, she became an experienced concert pianist, toured California and performed as a solo concert pianist in hundreds of concerts annually. Soon afterwards, she studied classical piano technique with the world-famous classical concert pianist, Adolf Baller. She became a talented protégé music student and accomplished pianist under his excellent tutelage.
She attended Mills College in Oakland, California as a music student, until her second famous music teacher Madame Schmidt, insisted that she cease her undergraduate studies at Mills College and continue to develop her professional music skills under her supervision in San Francisco, California. This proved to be a very difficult and arduous task. Over the next
four years in the early 1940's, she was required to practice her piano repertoires under Madame Schmidt's strict mentoring, sometimes over 10 hours per day. During this time, she lived with at the residence of Madame Schmidt and her famous pianist husband, E. Robert Schmidt, in the affluent Pacific Heights District of San Francisco.
Katherine met her future husband, Bruce Lawler, a radar specialist during World War II, while he was stationed at Treasure Island Naval Facility in San Francisco Bay. He met this lovely collegiate, while playing a tennis match between the U.S. Navy and Mills College in Oakland, California in 1945. Katherine, an excellent tennis doubles partner, was destined to be his wonderful and loving wife for the next 67 years.
The happy couple were married at the family ranch in Escalon, California on August 23, 1947. They raised three boys (Richard S. Lawler, David A. Lawler, and Roger L. Lawler) from childhood to adulthood in the El Cerrito and Berkeley Hills over the next several decades.
Katherine transitioned from her long-standing professional career as a concert pianist to a private music teacher, giving piano lessons to promising young musicians during the 1960's to 1990's. Several of her protégé students attended Juilliard School in New York and other prestigious music colleges throughout the U.S. Katherine, also known as "Katie," and her
chemical engineer husband, Bruce, also loved to travel internationally and did so for many decades, visiting Europe, Australia,
New Zealand, Hawaii, and many other destinations. Her adventurous spirit and love of international travel was also shared by her sons Richard and David, who pursued careers that allowed them to travel extensively throughout the world over many decades.
After the death of her husband Bruce in 2013, she moved into her dream home in the Grass Valley area to be near her son, David. She enjoyed fulfilling her life dream of living in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during all four seasons.
Katie was highly intelligent and was fortunate to keep her mind sharp throughout her life by being an accomplished concert pianist and music teacher. In her leisure time, she studied, memorized, and recited poetry and drama. She was active in many community organizations, including PEO, Bay Area Opera League, and The Daughters of the American Revolution.
She was extremely kind and loving and would extend her halo of warmth and compassion to all those who encountered her throughout her long and rich life. She was a wonderful storyteller and would keep her friends, extended family, and dinner guests spellbound with her interesting real-life stories.
Katherine is survived by her sons David and Roger of Grass Valley, California and her brother, Griffith O. Marshall of Tiburon, California. She was predeceased by her older son, Richard S. Lawler of Grass Valley in 2007, and by her younger brother, David A. Marshall of Westminster, Colorado in 2015. She will be greatly missed by her immediate family, relatives and close friends.
A private service will be held for family and friends at the Elks Lodge in Nevada City, California on Friday March 23th from noon to 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Essential Tremor Foundation or the American Cancer Society in her memory.