by Karen Starr
Elender Meinecke was one of those woman in the world that, if you called her a “force of nature” in describing her, everyone who knew her would nod their head in grateful appreciation of the fitting description.
She was, simply put, an extraordinary woman and friend—and since she passed last month, she is missed by many people within the music, teaching, and philanthropy worlds of Akron.
I was lucky enough to have Elender as my high school choir teacher and musical director of the productions I performed in at Hoban High. She was one of those teachers that pulled the best out of you, stretched your understanding of the topic (and the world in general), encouraged you to dive deeper into an appreciation of art, and made you braver in exploring your own capabilities.
As Jared, my friend and fellow student of hers, wrote the day after she passed away, “She was the best. I learned more from her than all of my other teachers combined. What a super lady!!”
In fact, in writing this, I looked back on Facebook posts about Elender over the past couple of years, and there was always someone saying some version of: “I had her as a teacher too! She was a huge influence on my life!”
And then there was the side of Elender that a few of us got to enjoy after high school. She was like a second mother to those of us, and we were blessed to have a continued relationship with her that spanned almost three decades of her presence and influence in our lives.
After her death, I had the bittersweet pleasure of reconnecting with old friends across the country and tearfully sharing our favorite memories of the woman who was a teacher, friend, and mother to us. She was just that kind of person.
Her published obituary paid homage to her work within the community in addition to teaching. She and her husband Eberhard always financially supported local non-profit organizations, especially the arts-based organizations, and in the case of Tuesday Musical Association, Children’s Concert Society, and Magical Theater Company, she helped build them strong during her time working with them.
Thank you to TDS for allowing me to have a wider audience to celebrate the woman who was my mentor, my major musical influence, and such a positive teacher in our community.
Raise a glass to her, my friends! To Elender!