Leo Goeke

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Leo F. Goeke

1936-2012 Leo F. Goeke of New Lebanon, N.Y., passed away Tuesday at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, due to complications following several strokes. He was 75.

Mr. Goeke was a renowned lyric tenor. He performed at the New York Metropolitan Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Stuttgart Theater, La Scala and other venues around the world. His performances as Tamino in "The Magic Flute," Tom Rakewell in "Rake's Progress" and Gandhi in "Satyagraha," to name a few, gained him a strong following.

His enduring success sometimes surprised him. Once in 2004, while waiting in line in Dublin Airport, he heard a ringtone of himself singing "O Colombina." He smiled and shook his head.

Born Nov. 6, 1936 in Kirksville, MO, Leo Francis Goeke was the sixth of seven children born to Edward and Rose Goeke. Along with brothers, Raymond, Fred, Joe and Ed, Mr. Goeke worked in the family shoe shop, where their father and grandfather both repaired and made shoes. An opera buff and church tenor, Mr. Goeke taught his sons to play piano and sing harmony. The quintet performed at county fairs and other events across rural Missouri.

After graduating Missouri Teachers College, where he earned a bachelor's degree, Mr. Goeke joined the Missouri National Guard. Serving six years, he learned to bake pies, bread and dinner rolls. During this time, he attended Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, where he earned a master's degree in performing arts. He earned a second master's at Iowa State University, where he studied voice with David Lloyd, who provided him an entree to the New York Metropolitan Opera Studio.

While attending Iowa, Mr. Goeke met his first wife Margery Ryan, a soprano. They had a son, Matthew. Mrs. Goeke performed with Mr. Goeke at the Met Studio, Chautauqua Institute, Central City Opera and other venues. She died in 2000.

After a decade's long career performing on the world's stages, in 1989 Mr. Goeke returned to the United States. He toured nationally and sang as resident artist with opera companies in Santa Fe, San Francisco, Orlando, Palm Beach and other cities. In 1994, he became opera director and taught voice at DePauw University, in Greencastle, IN. He retired in 2004.

Mr. Goeke met his second wife Anne Fullam, a journalist, at a church picnic. After meeting, Mrs. Goeke won a raffle at the church, free voice lessons with Mr. Goeke. A romance blossomed, and the couple wed in 2003.

Survivors include Mrs. Anne Goeke, Matthew and his wife Ina Litera, of Manhattan, N.Y. Sisters, Nellie Williams of Oxford, Mich. and Elizabeth Goeke of Portland, Ore. Brothers Raymond of Keokuk, Iowa and Fred of Jefferson City, Mo., brothers- and sisters-in-law, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

FUNERAL NOTICE: Funeral Notice: Funeral services for Leo F. Goeke who died September 18, 2012 will be held Friday at 10:30 a.m. from the Dery Funeral Home in Pittsfield, MA followed by a Liturgy of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. at St. Mark Church celebrated by the Rev. John Salatino, pastor. Burial will be private. Calling hours will be held Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Dery Funeral Home, 54 Bradford St. Pittsfield, MA 01201.



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Published in Bennington Banner on Sept. 20, 2012
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