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Valucha deCastro

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Valucha deCastro, Brazilian-born singer, composer, artist and writer, died Feb. 12, 2007 at her home in Washington, D.C. Valucha, as she was known professionally and to her friends, died of liver disease. She was 76. Valucha was born Oct. 10, 1930 in the state of Minas Gerais. Her father, Ajaccio de Aquino Castro, was a banker. Her mother, Wanda Murgel deCastro, was a translator of literature. When Valucha was twelve, her family moved to Rio de Janeiro. In 1950 Valucha traveled to the United States to study at Drake University. She married a medical student, Jack Buffington, who later became a psychiatrist in Chicago. They had three children and were later divorced. In Chicago Valucha was one of the first students to enroll at the Old Town School of Folk Music where she later taught Brazilian folk music. She performed with singer Frank Hamilton. They recorded an LP record, "The World of Frank and Valucha" which was widely played on Chicago's fine arts radio station, WFMT, and its popular program "The Midnight Special." Throughout the 1970's and 80's Valucha performed in concert halls and music clubs throughout the Midwest and issued several recordings. She became an artist in residence at Chicago's Urban Gateways, bringing Latin American music to thousands of schoolchildren. Valucha later turned to painting and developed a wide body of work, much of it based on images from her childhood in Brazil. In the 1990's she was inspired by new influences as she moved to from Chicago to Washington, D.C., Moscow, Russia and Hong Kong. Valucha married Richard Arnesen, a designer, in 1963. Their marriage ended but they remained close friends until her death. Valucha is survived by her partner of 29 years, Jill Dougherty. Her son, Paul Buffington, is a farmer in Montana. Her daughter, Gigi Buffington, is an actor and voice specialist living in Chicago and London. Her daughter, Sandra de Castro Buffington, is a consultant in global leadership and international health and lives in Washington, D.C. Her grandchildren, Ana Lucia McGorty and Chalo Wells, live in Chicago and Santa Fe. A memorial for Valucha will be held at her home in Chicago April 10. She requested that any contributions in her name be made to the contributor's favorite charity.

Published in Chicago Tribune on Mar. 18, 2007
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