The Oregonian: Mary Tooze, longtime Portland arts philanthropist, dies
Author: David Stabler
Posted: January 28, 2013

Read the original article in The Oregonian.

Mary Tooze loved the arts and loved young people. For decades, she supported Portland's young artists, but not just with money.

Tooze, who died Thursday, also opened her home, inviting young pianists to play one of her two Steinway grand pianos for groups of friends. Whether they were preparing for their first major public performance in town, or coming home on a break from major conservatories or concert careers, a trip to Tooze's house was welcome.

"She liked them to be serious about what they did," said her longtime friend, Dorothy Fahlman. "She wanted it to be extremely high quality."

Tooze also supported the Oregon Symphony, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Portland Piano International and other arts groups. A pianist herself, she hosted a monthly playing group where participants played for one another.

Fahlman, whose piano students regularly win competitions, is a member of Tooze's playing group going back some 30 years.

"She was feisty, opinionated and you didn't sway her," Fahlman said.

Tooze graduated from Lincoln High School in 1940, at a time when faculty entered the building through the main entrance and students were expected to use a side door, she recalled in a Portland State philanthropy publication. She became a music major at Mills College in California and came back to Portland where she won a 1949 Bach competition, performing with the Portland Chamber Orchestra.

When PSU remodeled Lincoln Hall in 2010, she gave $50,000 for a new piano teaching studio. In the 1990s, she gave the Oregon Symphony the money to record Tomas Svoboda's Marimba Concerto, which earned a Grammy nomination in 2003, with Niel DePonte as soloist.

"I feel like I've known Mary my whole life," DePonte said. "She loved great pianists, she was a great supporter of (former symphony conductor James) DePreist and she was on the search committee for (current conductor) Carlos Kalmar." Each year, she sponsors a young artist in DePonte's MetroArts Inc. annual concerto competition.

"She was there for us for so many years," DePonte said.

Tooze also supported the Portland International Piano Festival, attending the full week of events at the World Forestry Center, "every hour of every day," said founder Harold Gray.

"I will miss her spirit," Gray said.

No service is planned.