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1923 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Packer, Dorothy (Slepian) Musicologist, historian, teacher, musician and scholar, Dorothy died March 28, 2014 at the age of 90. Born April 2, 1923 in Boston, Dorothy attended Girls' Latin School and Boston University (Mus.B., 1944, A.M., 1945). Studying under noted musicologist Karl Geiringer, in 1946 she earned the first Ph.D. in Musicology awarded by Boston University, writing her dissertation on "Polyphony in Modern American Music." Dorothy attended the Boston Music School and developed into an enthusiastic and talented violinist. In 1948, Dorothy was teaching at Boston University when she met and married Leo S. Packer, a WWII veteran who was a Harvard graduate student in engineering sciences. Raising three children, their marriage was to last 66 years. Dorothy adapted to Leo's career as a research engineer, corporate executive, government official, diplomat, and international science consultant by pursuing her research passions and scholarship as his work took them to New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca, Washington DC, Dallas, Paris, Cairo, and Cambridge. Well into her 70s, Dorothy embraced the Internet revolution, developing advanced computer skills that allowed her to explore libraries and museums world-wide, finding great joy in her discoveries. With Leo's retirement, they lived in Paris for 15 years. Dorothy gave numerous presentations at musicological conferences and in venues as diverse as the Philosophy of Education Research Center at Harvard University, the Library of Congress, and the Phillips Exeter Academy. She contributed articles to professional journals on such topics as musical imagery in Latin poetry; French chansons of the 17th century; Rabelais and 18th-century French vaudeville; Horatian moral philosophy in French song; and the grief-decalogue relationship in 16th-century chansons. In later years Dorothy was fascinated by music in pre-historic times and studied ancient musical practices using tools of archeology, geology, anthropology, physics and chemistry, and enjoyed delving into unexplored multi-disciplinary musical/historical areas. Her love of music and scholarship inspired the entire family to pursue music either professionally or for personal enjoyment, leading to a family string quartet as her children grew. Dorothy is survived by her husband Leo; daughter Janet Susan Packer and son-in-law Samuel Rechtoris, and son Alex J. Packer. Another son, Michael, died on 9/11. Dorothy will long be remembered for her warmth, generosity, intelligence, sense of humor, courage, positive spirit, and limitless capacity to love and be loved by all who knew her.
Published in The Boston Globe on June 22, 2014
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