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Family reflects on life of Goshen violinist, professor

GOSHEN, Ind. -- The family of 85-year-old Lon Sherer shared memories after his memorial service Monday following the death of the accomplished violinist and Goshen College professor.

Sherer spent 39 years teaching at Goshen College, but that's just one part of this seemingly ordinary man's extraordinary life story.

"[He was] wise, witty, occasionally irreverent," said Sherer's youngest son, Michael Sherer.

Lon's family found with his violin and music on June 9 (not June 10 as the above video states).

Sherer got a violin for his birthday in elementary school and never looked back.

Music even introduced him to his pianist wife.

“My mom and he were sort of a fixture around Goshen, you’d see them riding around town on their recumbent tandem," said Michael.

Lon and his wife, Kathryn, build their music-filled lives together until he fell ill in the 70's. 

“He developed something called an acoustic neuroma that had to be removed surgically, and through that experience, he lost the ability to play, and it took about five years for him to relearn how to play his instrument” said Michael.

His dad traveled all the way to Japan to study with renowned music educator Suzuki and brought back that knowledge to enlighten not only his Goshen College students but the entire community.

"You studied with Lon and you learned lessons years later as you reflected back on the experience," said MIchael.

“We felt we had so much to learn and he was able to articulate things in a way that was really impressive and memorable and weaving things together not just about music but all kinds of other aspects of life," said Lon's only daughter, Karen Stoltzfus.

“He was a learner...He went to Australia and discovered he loved to throw boomerangs," said Michael.

His granddaughters said he also was famous in their family for sending creative cards for everyone's birthdays.

“It was interesting too to have the different roles of being student and granddaughter and how that was kind of intertwined. I’d go over for my lesson, and I’d feel like I had to be kind of professional---but then as soon as the lesson was over, it was like moving on to other things and I was his granddaughter again," said Emily Stoltzfus, Karen's daughter.

“And especially how passionate he and grandma were about music, that was so inspiring to me," said Emily's sister, Kate.

“He said well it’s really hard for me to play and I don’t need to do it anymore vocationally, but my heart needs it...so I think even up to the very end he was still so passionate," she said.

If you'd like to make a contribution in Lon's honor, you can do so to the Lon and Kathryn Sherer Preparatory Music Endowment Fund at Goshen College or to Mennonite Central Committee, a relief, service and peace agency.


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