Obituaries 04-07-2015

Ronald Knudsen

Boston Symphony Violinist

After a long life and rich career filled with wonderful colleagues and incredible music, Ronald Knudsen passed away peacefully in the comfort of his beloved home surrounded by family at nearly the age of 84.

As a highly respected member of Boston’s professional musical community, Ron was known as a violinist, conductor and an educator. Throughout his extended career he devoted himself to bringing classical music of all kinds to the widest possible audience.

Born in Nebraska and raised in Minnesota, he studied at the MacPhail School of Music in Minneapolis and Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD. Following Peabody, he was a Tanglewood Music Center Fellow in Lenox, where he served as both the orchestra’s concertmaster and soloist.

Before coming to Boston in 1965 to join the Boston Symphony violin section, Ron was a member of the Baltimore and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. During his years as a violinist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Ron was active in many aspects of Greater Boston’s musical community. He was the original violinist in the contemporary music group Collage, and in 1971 helped to found the Curtisville Consortium, a chamber music ensemble of Boston Symphony players and friends performing in a series of chamber concerts each summer in the Berkshires. Ron was a violin soloist with the Boston Pops, Brockton Symphony, Newton Symphony and Worcester Orchestras and appeared annually in chamber music programs throughout Massachusetts. In August 2013 Ron retired from the Boston Symphony Orchestra after 48 years of service.

As a conductor Maestro Knudsen conducted numerous orchestras throughout New England and in Japan. He served as Music Director of the Brockton and Newton Symphonies prior to being invited to be Music Director of the New Philharmonia Orchestra. In June 1990 Maestro Knudsen made his conducting debut with the Boston Pops Orchestra and was a regular guest conductor with both the Boston Pops and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestras for more than 10 years. In addition, he was a guest conductor for a variety of chamber and Pops orchestras around the New England area. Throughout his conducting career and as Music Director of the New Philharmonia Orchestra Maestro Knudsen received acclaim from the press, orchestra and audiences for his programming, conducting skill and ability to bring professional standards to a non-professional orchestra. Ron was the recipient of a number of civic awards including the Newton Pride Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce Appreciation Award.

In addition to his distinguished careers as a violinist and conductor, Ron was respected and sought after for his exceptional skill in the repair and restoration of fine old stringed instruments. He also had a great appreciation for quality craftsmanship and enjoyed restoring his historical 1878 Victorian period home.

Ron leaves his wife and soulmate of 40 years, Adrienne Hartzell Knudsen, his two children from his previous marriage to Kay Knudsen: Sato Knudsen and wife, Leslie Wisdom; Mayumi Knudsen and husband, Lewis Lear; and four grandchildren: Clara Knudsen, Emma Knudsen, Anna Lear, and Jesse Lear; his sister, Priscilla Knudsen Wheeler and husband, J. R. Wheeler and three nieces.

A memorial celebration of Ron’s life will be held later this spring. If you would like to send a message to the Knudsen family please go to: In lieu of flowers, gifts to the New Philharmonia Music Director Legacy Fund are gratefully appreciated: P.O. Box 610384, Newton, MA 02461.

Sarah DuLaurence Appleton

Always Loved Beacon Hill

Sarah DuLaurence Appleton died suddenly but peacefully at her home on Beacon Hill on March 9. This may surprise those who knew and loved her because, until the very end, she lived a life filled with energy, activity and fiercely expressed love for her family and her many friends.

When she campaigned for captain of the Green Team at Laurel School for Girls, her best friend prepared a campaign speech describing her as “having vaulted out of her crib on a hockey stick.” Between classes she was noted for riding a unicycle through the streets of Shaker Heights, Ohio and engaging in all manner of rough and tumble activities. All of her friends, however, knew not to bring muddy boots into the house – her room and later her home were always beautiful and spotless.

After attending Chatham College, she moved to Boston where she worked at the Childs Gallery and at the Codman Real Estate Company. With her flair for dramatic entertaining she organized a huge and splendid party at the Cambridge Boat Club so impressing John Appleton that he decided to marry her. Sarah did not disappoint. No guest can ever forget the next forty-five years of parties that she threw for all occasions with wonderful food, drink and presents for everyone.

Sarah loved Beacon Hill – so much so that she and John lived in three different locations on Mount Vernon Street during their early married life, moving from 18 to 63 and then on to number 61 where they bought one of the very first condos developed on Beacon Hill.

As their family grew, the Appletons moved from Beacon Hill to Manchester where Sarah was known for encouraging kids anytime and anywhere. She was the “Book Fair Lady” for the Memorial School where she also served as the head of the Parent Teachers Organization. Later she did the same for Brookwood School.

As her children moved on to high school at Governor Dummer, Pomfret and Deerfield, and to college at the Hartford Art School, Wheaton and Trinity, her enthusiasm followed them as she organized the first charity auction for the Governor Dummer Academy. She became the “Team Mother” for many youngsters whose parents could not attend their sports meets. She created unofficial awards of ribbons and participation gifts to many young athletes who would not otherwise have received them.

Sarah was as artistic as she was athletic, known for her talent as a painter in college and later as an extraordinary photographer who resisted going to automatic cameras for most of her life. She was fascinated by objects from the natural world and collected as many as she could – shells, fossils and rocks from the Carribean Islands to the cold shores of Maine to most of the unpaved parking lots in between.

Upon returning to Boston in the 1990s, Sarah and family lived successively at 44 Chestnut St; the Sunflower House; 250 Beacon St; and finally the Tudor on Joy Street. She and her grown daughters established a unique home decor store in Boston named, of course, Appletons’ of Newbury Street. The store focused on bringing the works of contemporary American artists and craftsmen to the public, offering original and unusual pieces not available in any other retail establishment.

After retiring from her store, Sarah and her family headed north again. Headquarters became “Spindrift” on Eastern Point, Gloucester, and then “Camp Appleton” in Prides Crossing where the six Appleton and LeStage grandchildren learned to swim and explore nature with their adoring grandparents.

Last year the Appletons returned to Beacon Hill where Sarah took great pleasure in being able to walk to the places she had always loved. She was especially delighted when someone recognized her on Charles Street asking “Aren’t you the one who had that wonderful store?”

Sarah is survived by her loving husband, John, her daughters, Hawley Appleton and Nathalie Appleton LeStage, her son, Thomas Russell Appleton, and by her six grandchildren. She is also survived by her brothers Henry and Robert and by her nieces and nephews.

A Memorial Service for Sarah will be held on Saturday, April 11 at 1 p.m. at Kings Chapel, Boston. A further celebration of her life will be held following the service at the Somerset Club, Boston. Contributions she would love, would be to: Cape Ann Animal Aid, 4 Paws Lane, Gloucester 01930 where she recently contributed a room to their new facility; or, The Peter Simonds Memorial Scholarship Fund for graduating students at Manchester High School, c/o Art Landy, 118 Summer Street, Manchester, 01944

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