From Peter Seibert

We recently received the sad news that Kate Bracher, one of the giants of the recorder world in the Northwest, died on October 26.  She was an honorary member of the Seattle Recorder Society and was a friend, a colleague, and a mentor to many of us here.  She attended the Port Townsend workshop this past summer, having come here from her home in Maine.

When the Port Townsend workshop got underway in 1983, I asked Kate to join the faculty to teach Renaissance dance.  She was a fixture on the faculty for many summers.

As a faculty member teaching astronomy at Whitman College, Kate also ran an early music group there, the Whitman Renaissance Consort, made up of recorders, viols, and other historical instruments.  She taught there from 1967 until 1998, and over the decades, many of her former students have been Seattle Recorder Society members. In the spring of her retirement year, there was a large reunion of her former students, who put on a full-length concert at the college; the president and many faculty members attended.

Kate was famous in her field of astronomy, and, as she was preparing to retire, the college’s observatory was renamed The Bracher Observatory.  And it should be noted that, on the Port Townsend brochures each summer, she was listed as “Kate Bracher, Renaissance dance, Astronomy.”  Quite late on a July evening, she would tote a telescope out to the parade grounds at Fort Warden and help us to understand what we were seeing.

Kate is survived by her long-time partner, Cynthia Shelmerdine, known to many of us, who has come to musical activities in the Northwest with Kate.

From Larry Stark

I am grieved to report the passing of Kate Bracher on October 26, her 85th birthday.

Kate was a long-time member of the Seattle Recorder Society.  Though she moved out of the Northwest over twenty years ago she returned to attend the Port Townsend and Menucha workshops, and many in the S.R.S. know her from these.

She taught Astronomy at Whitman College in Walla Walla from 1967-1998 and, along with Music Professor William Bailey, formed the Whitman College Renaissance Consort.  This ensemble often performed in Walla Salla and southeast Washington and occasionally played at the Seattle Recorder Society meetings.  Members of this group not only admired her as a musical director but also treasure her as a friend who left us all better people than we had been before.  All of us will remember her fondly.

From Vicki Boeckman

I met Kate Bracher at the Port Townsend workshop back in the day when it was held at the Fort Warden Conference Center in Port Townsend. It was my first time as a faculty member, the year was 1993. One day, at the morning announcements, Kate announced that she had brought her telescope to the workshop and would be setting it up that evening out on the parade lawn. This was no ordinary telescope, and it was no ordinary evening. Saturn was in close orbit to earth, and with her professional high-powered scope we could not only see the rings but also the moons! It was absolutely magical and I’ll never forget it.

Kate loved renaissance music with all its history, she loved playing the buzzies and was a dedicated workshop participant always eager to learn. She never missed a Port Townsend workshop; attended every once since 1983. It was always lovely to see her and have the chance to reminisce when she came back to Washington. She will be sorely missed.