Inez Altman Crofts was just 13 years old when she began her career as a music teacher. Just a kid in southern Ohio, her music instructor left the state and she inherited 25 students, whom she charged 60 cents a lesson.
Eight decades later, she was still nurturing the musical abilities of her charges – both child and adult – in her Riverside home. Last May she held a recital (she played piano as their accompanist) of her students at the Riverside United Methodist Church.
In an interview with the Landmark on that occasion, Ms. Crofts showed no signs of slowing down.
“This is the best time of my life right now,” she said. “The fact that I have wonderful people come into my studio, come in and sing with me. I enjoy every minute of it.”
Ms. Crofts died Dec. 12, 2010, at the age of 93.
Marrying at 19 years old, she and her husband, Philip Crofts, moved to Connecticut, where Mr. Crofts worked for the J.C. Penney Company and she hosted a local TV program called “Twilight Time.”
After moving to Chicago, and at age 39, Ms. Crofts attended the Chicago Conservatory of Music, graduating with degrees in voice performance. An opera scout discovered her and Ms. Crofts toured with the New York Opera Company in the role of Bertha in the Barber of Seville.
Returning from New York, Ms. Crofts decided to teach music, opening a studio in her Riverside home in 1960.
Ms. Crofts was a faculty member of the music department at Judson College in Elgin and was a past president of the Chicago Artist Association. For nearly 50 years she was a devoted active member of the Sigma Alpha Iota international music fraternity.
Through her own studio in Riverside, she was a voice instructor for countless professional and amateur singers.
Her student and assistant, Patty Kirin, told the Landmark in May, “Inez doesn’t let you give up on yourself. I didn’t sing for a long time, but Inez didn’t let me quit. She brought me back after some tough times, and I’m so thankful she did.”
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011, at the Riverside United Methodist Church, 82 Woodside Road, Riverside. Ms. Crofts was buried in a private family ceremony at Memorial Burial Cemetery in Wheelersburg, Ohio.
Memorial contributions may be made toward a music scholarship in her name to the Oak Park Alumnae Chapter of SAI, c/o Marty McIntyre, P.O. Box 1477, Oak Park, Ill. 60304. Floral tributes will be gratefully accepted at the church for the day of the service.
Woodlawn Funeral Home, Forest Park, handled arrangements.