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Dorothy Croft

1910 - 2009 Obituary Condolences
Dorothy Croft Obituary
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA Dorothy Croft died peaceably in her sleep at Providence Horizon House in Anchorage, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 22, 2009.

She was born on Feb. 7, 1910, the daughter of Thomas Hood Chancy and Caldona Jones Chancy in Quanah, Texas.

Her musical talent was discovered at an early age, and at 7, she was sent to live with relatives in a neighboring town where she could study with a fine violin teacher.
After graduating from Ballinger High School, she enrolled in Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, where she graduated with honors in 1930, earning a B.A. degree in music.
Her first teaching position was in Odessa, where she was the Music Supervisor. When she was offered $40 more a month to teach music in Wink, she moved there in 1932.
She met Leland Croft, a landman and geologist with Standard Oil of Indiana, while teaching there.

They married in 1935. They were transferred to Houston, Lake Charles, La., and Tulsa, Okla., before moving back to Texas, first to Crane and then in 1945 to Odessa.
She taught private violin lessons, establishing a reputation of demanding the highest level of performance standards. Her student group, The Fiddlers, entertained for many events and were invited by the Mexican government to tour Mexico.

She helped found the Odessa Symphony, serving as the first concertmaster. The Odessa Symphony evolved into the present Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale.
In 1949, she became a charter member of the Odessa Music Teachers Association, serving as its first president.
She was a founding member of the Odessa Civic Concert Association, serving intermittently as its president. She was an early supporter of the Permian Playhouse of Odessa and later of the Globe of the Great Southwest.

Gov. Price Daniel appointed her to the State Mental Health Development Association, giving her the opportunity to expand her talents in another direction. She was very proud of what she was able to accomplish through this organization.

In 1954, the Beta Sigma Phi sorority honored her by naming her the First Lady of Odessa for that year.
She began work on a Violin Theory book that was published by Southern Music Co. They told her at the time it was about 25 years ahead of the times. It was proved correct when 25 years later they asked her to expand the book to include viola and cello editions.
Not only did she teach music, she taught the "correct" way of doing things. She was such an arbiter of taste that others responded willingly to her instruction. She was also a serious gourmet cook, researching recipes and delighting in serving them to guests at the many dinner parties she hosted.
She was a dynamic and inspiring speaker and was much in demand. She taught a Sunday school class at the First Christian Church for several years.

In 1963, she, Bill Holm and Dr. Luis Morton began planning what became the Presidential Museum. She spoke at many places promoting the idea of building a place that would honor the office of the Presidency with the result that it now is a reality.
In 1983, the Heritage of Odessa Foundation honored her by naming her the Community Statesman in the Arts.
In 1984, Leland Croft died.

On the occasion of her 80th birthday in 1990, the mayor of Odessa proclaimed that day "Dorothy Croft Day."
Her students are spread throughout the world. Her daughter, Dona Lee Croft, has been on the violin faculty at the Royal College of Music in London for 35 years.
Cindy Fleming is the concertmaster of the BBC Orchestra. Jack Rozman has played in pit orchestras in London and teaches violin at Eton. Denise Couch Tarrant is the concertmaster of the Houston Grand Opera and the Houston Ballet.

Others are educators, lawyers, scientists, doctors and businessmen and women who have benefited from her instruction.
Politically active and a lifelong Democrat, she made a close but unsuccessful bid for the Texas House of Representatives in 1972.

At age 68, she studied and trained to create a new career: that of an interior decorator. She helped design and decorate several large homes, winning accolades from such famous colleagues as the late John Gerald. She also became a dealer in art.
Odessa has benefited greatly from the efforts of this iconic civic leader, teacher and businesswoman.
In 2005, a gathering of her former students was arranged. They came from all over the country to thank her for what she had inspired them to do. The next year, due to failing health, she chose to move to Anchorage to be close to almost all of her immediate family.

Odessa has missed her.

She is survived by her son, Chancy and his wife Toni of Anchorage, Alaska; daughter, Dona Lee Croft of London, England; three grandchildren, Eric and his wife Joanna, Lee and his wife Terri of Anchorage and Kym Miller and her husband Tim of Portland, Ore.; and seven great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned later in the year.
Published in Odessa American on Apr. 25, 2009
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