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Shirley Hoover Kmet passed away at age 91 on February 23, 2023.
Shirley was born on April 24, 1931, in Akron, Ohio. She was preceded in death by her parents Sheldon and Florence Hoover, brother Richard Hoover, and her husband of 62 years Robert P. Kmet. Shirley is survived by her cherished children Robert II (Debbie) and Kimberly Kmet Wellman (Daniel). She will be dearly missed by her grandchildren Abigail and Samuel Kmet, as well as her sisters-in-law Carol Hoover and Lucy Kmet, and many nieces and nephews.
Shirley had a wonderful music career starting with receiving piano lessons at age 7 as a second grader at Spicer School. She played piano in the school orchestra and was always picked to sing in the All-City May Festival. In 1944, her family moved to Firestone Park whereas a student at Garfield High School she excelled in music. Shirley was a soloist in the school a Capella choir and also the female lead in the musical Knickerbocker Holiday in 1949.
She entered the School of Music at Wittenberg University in 1949, and for four years she sang and traveled with the Wittenberg Choir as a soloist. In 1953 she sang the role of Gretel with the Springfield Symphony production of Hansel and Gretel. She was also a member of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority and served as their song leader. On her college summer breaks Shirley worked as an elevator operator at the First National Tower and in 1951 became known as the "Singing Elevator Operator" after an article by Helen Waterhouse appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal. She also entered the Miss Akron Contest in 1951 and came in second!
In 1953 she graduated from Wittenberg and married Robert Kmet. She continued performing, and in 1954 sang the female lead in the Goodyear Operetta Society Musical the Chimes of Normandy. In 1961 she performed the female lead in the Jack Horner/Goodyear Theater production of High Button Shoes.
In 1953, Shirley began a 33-year career as an elementary music teacher. She taught for two years at Broad School in Cuyahoga Falls, one year at Fort Lenard Wood in Missouri, and 30 years in the Akron Public Schools at 11 different schools. She spent her last 17 years teaching at King School. During her years as a music teacher she produced wonderful music programs, and the other teachers called her "Broadway Shirley." She retired from teaching in 1994.
Shirley spent 55 years singing in the Faith Lutheran Church choir, singing many solos. She also played the hand bells at Faith Lutheran. For 44 years she sang soprano in the Akron Symphony Chorus and in 1994 joined the Saint Cecilia Choral Society, singing as a soloist, and also serving as president for two years. For ten years she was also a member of the Tuesday Musical Club, singing recitals and serving as Vice President/Concert Manager.
Shirley was a lifetime bridge player - joining the American Contract Bridge League in 1994 - and began playing Duplicate Bridge. She played all over the United States, collecting master points. Shirley became Life Master, Bronze Life Master, and in 2015 Silver Life Master.
Shirley's dear husband Robert died in September 2015, and her later years were blessed by her friendship with Richard Edwards. They became engaged in 2019 and were very happy together until Shirley's passing.
Shirley was blessed to be cared for by Cleveland Clinic Hospice, and her wonderful caregivers - especially her companion Lauralea. A memorial service will be held on April 15, 2023, at 11 am. at Faith Lutheran Church, 2726 West Market Street, Akron. Friends may call from 9:30 am to 11 am at the church prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Shirley's name to Faith Lutheran Church or to Cleveland Clinic Hospice.
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