Madeleine Titus of Eagan, who taught piano for 60 years at Macalester College in St. Paul and in her home, guided her students with patience, while gently insisting they meet the challenge of becoming skilled musicians.
The longtime Minneapolis resident, who faced steep obstacles during her life, died on July 5 in Elko of congestive heart failure.
She was 94.
When Titus was 19, her father died, and she helped put food on the family table by teaching piano to students in their homes, sometimes as far away as Wisconsin.
She would tell her son Anthony of Eagan: "Students were as scarce as hens' teeth," he said.
About 10 years ago, macular degeneration took her sight, but she learned the skills to do things for herself, and she continued to play piano until a few years ago.
Her son, who took lessons from her when he was a child, said she had an indomitable spirit and a "lifelong desire to be capable," even in her 90s.
"Her thrust was to make sure you enjoyed the act of playing," said her son, who is a classical guitarist and music teacher at Inver Hills Community College.
Her son consulted with her about teaching, saying she coauthored curriculum and tests for the Minnesota Music Teachers Association.
Her other son, Hiram of Minneapolis, is a pianist and composer who wrote music for the Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis and the Guthrie Theater.
In 1932, she graduated from the old Marshall High School, and in 1936 she earned a bachelor's degree in music from what is now called the MacPhail Center for Music.
From the mid-1940s to the late 1970s, she taught beginning piano for Macalester's Music Department.
Donald Betts, retired chairman of the department, said she was a "very successful" teacher.
She performed around the Twin Cities for decades, and she was the organist at the Aldrich Avenue Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis for more than 40 years.
Seale Lea of Minneapolis, a former college piano student, returned to the keyboard later in her life, taking lessons from Titus and having her daughter study with Titus as well.
Lea said that her longtime teacher was a "tremendous" person and teacher and that she was "patient," but she expected her students to learn the finer points of playing.
She remained friends with her pupils and their families long after the lessons ceased.
"She had a depth of interest she maintained for her students on a personal level," said Lea.
She had continued giving lessons on a reduced schedule into her 80s. She also entertained or played during chapel services at seniors residences. And she helped children learn to read at Armitage Elementary School in Minneapolis.
Her husband of 47 years, Hiram, died in 1991.
In addition to her sons, she is survived by her sister, Janet Olson of Edina, and three grandsons.
Services have been held.