STONINGTON — Soon after her death in March 2022 at the age of 91, the children of the late Barbara LaMarche — Gara LaMarche of Stonington, David LaMarche of New York City, and Barbara Montalto of Westerly — designated the Westerly Public Library for memorial gifts in her name.
"She was a great reader and the library was an important institution in the lives of our family," said her son, Gara, in a recent email, adding that "friends and family responded generously" by making donations in her name.
"Yet we also want to honor her in a more permanent way," he added, noting that his mother was a 1948 graduate of Stonington High School, "and we’ve come up with an idea that both keeps her memory alive and helps others."
"We’ve arranged with the school to establish a Barbara LaMarche Scholarship," he said, "with a preference for a graduating senior bound for musical education in college or a conservatory."
LaMarche said he, his siblings and their families have pledged $10,000 to launch the fund and are "asking our friends and relatives, and all those who loved our Mom, to join us and match this amount, collectively — and hopefully, well beyond."
"How much we raise will determine how much we can offer the annual recipient to help with the costs of their musical education," he said. "We plan to continue to give annually and from time to time will reach out to others to donate more to keep the fund going in perpetuity."
While his mother "surely lives on in her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and all who were touched by her vibrant presence," LaMarche wrote, "we’d like her to live on as well in the hopes and dreams of young people whom she will never know, but whose chances for success will be fueled by our love for her."
His mother, known for being "a loyal friend with a sharp wit," according to her obituary, was also "a talented singer, and the life of any party ... her vibrant presence made the world a livelier place."
LaMarche said his mother, the daughter of the late Otto and Winifred Findeisen, was "a very good singer, and well into her 80s could often be found singing Great American Songbook standards, often with Charlie Holland’s band, at the local bars and restaurants she patronized."
"She liked a good time, and she helped others have a good time," he added.
"She would like to have done more," he continued, "would like to have had an actual musical career, but that was not in the cards, something she always had a bit of regret about."
"To honor her, our family would like to help other young people realize their dreams," he said, noting that the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut is administering the scholarship at: https://cfect.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create/fund?funit_id=4234.
LaMarche said the final lines of the song, “This is All I Ask” are engraved on his mother's headstone in Riverbend Cemetery in Westerly.
And let the music play
as long as there’s a song to sing
and I will stay younger than spring