Stodola, Elizabeth Abeler
Elizabeth Abeler Stodola, 90, of Little Rock, Ark., died Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, after a long illness.
She was born Aug. 30, 1922, to George and Margaret Abeler, in St. Paul, Minn. Betty was a lifelong music educator and church musician. She graduated from the University of Minnesota and continued with graduate studies in New York at the Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart. She also received a Master’s Degree of Music Education from the University of Iowa. One of her life’s devotions was the making of music.
Betty spent 25 years teaching vocal music in the Iowa public schools and at LaSalle High School in Cedar Rapids, the town where she raised her two sons, Mark and Robert, currently of Little Rock. Her choir performances and Madrigal Dinners were yearly highlights. She returned to St. Paul in 1971 as music director/organist at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church. She was music director at the St. Paul Seminary for five years instructing music liturgy and directing a choir of seminarians. The pipe organ was her special love. She was dean of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. She also held that position at the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City Chapter; the Blackhawk (Quad Cities, Iowa) Chapter; and the Central Arkansas Chapter. In 1982, Betty returned to Iowa as a music teacher and organist, until her retirement from teaching in 1987.
In 1988, Betty moved to Little Rock to be near her sons. During her life in the South, she was organist/choir director at Lakewood United Methodist Church, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. Though well past common retirement age, Betty was active with many musical groups, with the Arkansas Bach Chorus and other musical ensembles and was happiest rehearsing musicians and readying musical performances. She was an active member of the Little Rock musical community and taught piano to countless numbers of students throughout her career. She was also involved with the Organ Historical Society and brought their national convention to Little Rock. She was instrumental in obtaining and restoring a historic organ for St. Michael’s Church.
Betty was a good friend to us. We deeply honor her and remember her for her intelligence, innate kindness, generosity and fineness of spirit. She has been an inspiration to us all as a singularly strong-hearted woman who made her mark in this world no matter what the circumstances.
Survivors include two sons, Mark (Jo Ellen) and Robert (Zabelle), both of Little Rock; three grandchildren, Allison Stodola Wilson (Craig), Robert and John Mark Stodola; and one brother, James Abeler (Sandy), of Anoka, Minn.
A funeral Mass will be held at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Little Rock, officiated by Rev. Matt Garrison at 4 p.m. Friday. Following the service, a reception with the family will be held in the McDonald Hall Parish Center. Arrangements are by Roller-Chenal Funeral Home, 13801 Chenal Pkwy., Little Rock, Ark.; (501) 224-8300.
A memorial fund dedicated to the Central Arkansas Chapter of the American Guild of Organists has been established in her memory and can be sent to P.O. Box 2765, Little Rock, AR 72203.
Online guest book: www.rollerfuneralhomes.com/chenal.
Published in The Gazette Dec. 14, 2012.