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Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, September 1, 2011

Sharon Stein

NEW SCOTLAND — A common note sounded through Sharon Stein’s life, often tracing the intricate turns composed by Johann Sebastian Bach.  She died on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011 at the age of 68.

Born on Nov. 27, 1942 in Quincy, Mass. to Lawrence Gordon Low and Myrtle A. Rood Low, she began piano lessons as a child no more than 10 years old.  By the time she was a teenager, said her husband, Geoffrey Stein, she was playing the organ for a local church.  She couldn’t yet drive, so her mother brought her each week to the church outside of Braintree, Mass. where she and her late brother, Gregory G. Low, grew up.

“The organ is called the king of music,” Mr. Stein said, explaining that it is not an easy instrument to play.  His wife kept playing the piano, too, and the couple would often play together — he on the oboe and she on the piano.  Growing up as an Episcopalian, Mrs. Stein was fond of church music and developed an affection for Bach, who wrote a cantata each week for his Lutheran church in 18th Century Germany.

“The way Bach created music — it was complex, it was appealing to the ear, and it was the kind of music that she liked,” Mr. Stein said of his wife.

After graduating from Braintree High School in 1960, Mrs. Stein went on to Gettysburg College and Tufts University, completing her degree at the University at Albany.  She later earned a Master of Science degree in health-care administration at Russell Sage College.  She went on to work for the Women, Infants, and Children program at Albany Medical College, the state’s department of social services, and the state’s department of health, from which she retired in 2008.

Her hand extended to volunteer work that she did with the HIV positive patients at Albany Medical Center Hospital and her recent support of the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging.  Also, as a young mother to her three children, Mrs. Stein was a foster mother.

Over the last few decades, Mrs. Stein was the church organist for Rensselaerville’s Presbyterian church, Unionville’s Reformed church, Delmar’s Episcopal church, and Mechanicville’s Methodist church.  “Finally, as liturgical musician at St. John the Evangelist & St. Joseph’s Catholic [church] in Rensselaer… she found her most rewarding musical career, combining a great organ, an acoustically-stellar and handsome building, and a welcoming, hospitable congregation,” her family wrote in a tribute.

Mrs. Stein was a board member of the eastern chapter of the American Guild of Organists, attending local programs and national conferences.  While she and her husband liked going to regional performances at Tanglewood, Glimmerglass, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and the Union College chamber concerts, they also traveled to Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

The couple recently participated in the Orfeo Music Festival in Italy and visited friends in Germany and France.

“In the end, it was the music that she really liked,” said her husband.


Mrs. Stein is survived by her three children, Lauren D. Gill and her husband, Paul Smith, of California; Christopher S. Gill of North Carolina; and Melanie C. (Gill) Ernst and her husband, Alexander, of Delmar.  She is also survived by her husband of 29 years, Geoffrey N. Stein; her step-mother, Carolina D. Low; her former daughter-in-law Lisa Gill; and her grandchildren, Rory and Eamon Smith, Peter and James Ernst, and Nicholas Race.

A memorial service with Holy Communion will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Cathedral of All Saints, 62 South Swan St., Albany.  The Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys will participate.  Calling hours will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday at the Applebee Funeral Home on Kenwood Avenue in Delmar.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Cathedral of All Saints Music Program, 62 S. Swan St., Albany, NY  12210.

—    Saranac Hale Spencer

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