Some people have it all, and some people appreciate what they have. Margaret Shuler Wyckoff, Class of 1930, is one of the latter. As one of those special few who truly know how to make the most of what life has offered to her, she has been able to enrich the lives of countless students.
Mrs. Wyckoff was born in 1909, the oldest of four children, and at age 6 developed an appreciation of music that stays with her today. As a youngster, Mrs. Wyckoff displayed talent as a vocalist but had a greater love for the piano.
Tragedy struck in 1919 when Mrs. Wyckoff 's mother died. Her father left a job, which required a great deal of travel and relocated the family from Canada to a farm in the United States. By doing so, he knew food would be plentiful and he could stay close to home and be with his children. They S were not rich, Mrs. Wyckoff remembers, but they certainly never considered themselves poor because they had each other.
Although rich with music in her home, Mrs. Wyckoff 's dream for a piano was unfulfilled. Undeterred, she found herself a long wooden board, painted it black, sketched in the appropriate keys and used one of her mother's old music books to teach herself how to play the instrument without the benefit of sound. It was not until she visited her grandfather, who had an organ, that Mrs. Wyckoff ever tried her technique on a working keyboard. She was thrilled to find that "Aura Lee" sounded just as she thought it would.
Mrs. Wyckoff dreamed of teaching music and worked to achieve her goal at the Fredonia Normal School. She arrived as a teenager with $6 to her name, but like many students during the Depression, she worked and borrowed to pay tuition and eventually earned her music education certificate. She is believed to be the oldest living music alumna of the Class of 1930.
Mrs. Wyckoff continued with voice and piano studies in Ithaca and California. She taught in Interlaken, N.Y., and New Jersey, and she was a music supervisor in Cayuga County, N.Y.
Although she eventually closed her formal teaching career, Mrs. Wyckoff never retired, and, according to her, probably never will. Her life is full; this active nonagenarian still plays piano and solves crossword puzzles—two tasks to which she attributes her long life—and is even writing her autobiography.
Mrs. Wyckoff has been a generous donor to the university, with gifts dating back as far as institutional records stretch. In 2001, she established the Margaret Shuler Wyckoff Scholarship for music education students, and she is tickled to hear from young teachers in training, who, like her at that age, can use a little help to finance their education.
"It is my wish to see this fund grow and produce enough interest to give annual tuition scholarships to worthy music students," Mrs. Wyckoff says. "Having been a recipient of financial assistance during my years as a music student, I wish very much to return to others the same invaluable assistance given to me. I have always been proud to be an alumna of Fredonia."
Mrs. Wyckoff has included the university in her will to support the scholarship she has endowed. As a member of the Dallas K. Beal Legacy Society, she will perpetuate her legacy at Fredonia for generations to come.
"I feel sincere gratitude always to Fredonia and the wonderful people for giving me such a fine education and training for a successful happy life," she says.
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