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MARIA FRANZISKA VON TRAPP - STOWE - Maria Franziska von Trapp, 99, died peacefully at her home in Stowe on Feb. 18, 2014, in the arms of her devoted adopted son and caregiver, Kikuli Mwanukuzi. She died of old age, having lived a full and exemplary life. Maria was born Sept. 28, 1914, in Zell am See, Pinzgau, Austria, and was the third of seven children of Agathe Whitehead von Trapp and Georg Johannes von Trapp. She was a member of the Trapp Family Singers, whose lives were the inspiration for the Broadway musical and Hollywood movie "The Sound of Music." Maria was a truly good woman, one of the sweetest, kindest people anyone could know. When she smiled, which was often, her eyes crinkled and her face lit up the room. In addition to singing, Maria was a skilled instrumentalist and played the accordion and recorder well into her 90's. She wrote and had books published on how to play the recorder, as well as children's folk songs from Austria. The von Trapps fled Austria in 1938 when Hitler invaded Austria. They feared reprisals resulting from Captain von Trapp's refusing to accept a commission in the German navy and the family's declining to sing for Hitler's birthday. The family settled in Philadelphia and continued their concert tours nationally and internationally. They moved to Vermont in 1942, continuing their concert tours until 1956. They became naturalized American citizens in 1948. After touring with the family, Maria became a lay missionary in Papua, New Guinea, for 30 years. There she met Kikuli Mwanukuzi from Tanzania who would become her son. Maria was the last survivor of the seven original von Trapp children. She is survived by three half siblings, who were born to Maria Augusta von Trapp and Georg von Trapp, Eleanore (Hugh) Campbell, Rosmarie Trapp, and Johannes (Lynne) von Trapp; her son, Kikuli; and many nieces and nephews, and grand- and great-grandnieces and nephews. A private memorial and burial service will be held at a later date. After leaving New Guinea, Maria continued to support the church of Pastor Lenden Butuna in Alotau, Papua, New Guinea. If people wish to donate to his church it would please her. For ease and convenience, the funds need to be collected first and then sent together. Please make checks out to Kikuli Mwanukuzi and note that they are for The Christian Life Center, PNG. Kikuli's address is PO Box 1428, Stowe, VT 05672.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Feb. 26, 2014
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