The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — Catherine “Kay” Fowler Payn died at her home in Lewisburg on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, with her family beside her. She was 66 and had been battling multiple myeloma for several years.
She was born in Manchester, N.H., on Aug. 6, 1947, the daughter of Hollis and Ruth (Lowe) Fowler.
She attended school in Andover, Mass., Watertown, Conn., and Westfield, Mass.
After graduating from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J., in 1968, Kay developed extensive musical experiences for children in churches in Ohio and New Jersey. She received her master of music (1979) and doctor of music arts (1989) degrees from West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va. In 1982, she moved to Lewisburg, where, until 1989, she served as an adjunct faculty member at Bucknell University, Susquehanna University and Lycoming College, teaching studio voice, music education and conducting.
In 1989, she became an assistant professor of music at Bucknell University and was an associate professor at the time of her death. She taught studio voice, voice class, courses on creativity and literature, and politics and women’s issues in opera. Professor Payn established the Bucknell Opera Company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. She taught voice privately throughout her career and was an active recitalist and oratorio soloist. In 2009, she was awarded Bucknell’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Opera education was her passion, and she served as a member of the Board of the National Opera Association from 2006 until her death. She also was the chair of the NOA Research Committee, and between 2000 and 2009, was the NOA Governor of the Mid-Atlantic Region. Her colleagues in NOA held her in great esteem and affection, and she was spoken of as “a wonderful model of professionalism in the field, both as an opera director and scholar.” She was a longtime member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and held various state and regional offices in that organization. For several years in the 1990s, she was a member of a task force for the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
She was nationally known for her expertise in American Chamber Opera as well as for the Bucknell Opera Company’s many performances of new chamber operas. She often spoke on American Chamber Opera, Orff Schulwerk, the development of young voices, and rhythmic aptitude.
Kay Payn may be unique among Bucknell faculty in having been honored by the creation of both a scholarship and a program endowment while she was still an active, full-time faculty member. Donors created a scholarship that bears her name and an opera program endowment that she inspired, thereby supporting both opera students and the program in which they are engaged. That faculty and staff, as well as alumni and current students, contributed to these funds while she was still teaching is an indication of the respect and affection she inspired.
Kay is survived by her son, Daniel Payn, and his partner Alyson Platzer, of Burlington, Vt., and her brother, William Fowler, of Lewisburg.
A private burial will be held in New Hampshire. A memorial service in Lewisburg is planned for a later date.
Contributions in Kay’s memory may be made to the Professor Catherine “Kay” Payn Scholarship Fund at Bucknell University. Make checks payable to Bucknell University and mail them to the Catherine Payn Scholarship Fund, Bucknell University Development Office, 301 Market St., Suite 2, Lewisburg, PA 17837.
The family is being assisted by the Cronrath-Grenoble Funeral Home, South Second and St. Louis streets, Lewisburg.
Expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.cronrathgrenoblefuneralhome.com.