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Remembering Madolyn Douglas Fallis

A tribute to Madolyn Douglas Fallis and Elaine Ehlers. "Waltzing Matilda" for four feet, arranged by Robert Ampt, performed by Dr. John Schwandt and Dr. Adam Pajan.

Madolyn Douglas Fallis
Madolyn Douglas Fallis and Elaine Ehlers
Madolyn Douglas Fallis

Madolyn Douglas Fallis

From our Director:

One of the many incredible blessings of being part of the AOI is the sense of family, connection, mutual support, and respect.  From the beginning, we felt it important to include past alumni as an integral part of our AOI family.  So it is with that feeling that we grieve the loss of one of our own, Madolyn Fallis, known to many by her nickname “Mad Sue.”  It was my great privilege and delight to get to know this amazing woman over the past 12 years.  

A bundle of energy hardly suffices to describe her personality.  No one can forget her duo performances with her best friend, fellow alumna Elaine Ehlers!  It was with a sense of humility as well as joy that my colleague Adam Pajan and I performed their signature pedal duet “Waltzing Matilda” on my recent faculty recital, a piece which perfectly depicts the creative energy and humor of Madolyn.  She and Elaine performed that piece any number of times and it always brought the house down!  Madolyn believed in great music and great fun—a winning combination in every way.

I will miss the many conversations and unforgettable dinner dates I had with her.  She lived life fully each and every minute—and people half her age were challenged to keep up with her!  She is now free from a body that could no longer sustain her boundless spirit.  I take comfort in knowing that she is “tearing it up” with the angels and no doubt giving God a challenge with the speed of her conversation!

– John Schwandt

From our Assistant Professor of Organ:

I first met Madolyn at regional conventions during my years in Texas. She was absolutely wonderful, and she had that beautiful voice and such an infectious smile, and always made you feel like she was about to burst out laughing while she was telling you things that were about to turn into hysterical stories. She was one of the warmest and most gracious people. I so enjoyed seeing her at those events. I wish we had lived closer to each other. Watching her and Elaine play their duets, I was always struck by how much fun they were having, and how their friendship was so linked to their musicianship.  It was such a joy to watch. I will miss her and was so inspired by her.

– Damin Spritzer

From our Associate Director:

Madolyn was simply energy in human form. Everything about her was quick – in particular, her famous wit. She brought joie de vivre with her wherever she went and immediately infected those with whom she came in contact. She also lived to make music, and it simply flowed from her fingers, whether she was at the keyboard or conducting a choir. Her deep involvement in her community means that her fingerprints are all over the classical and sacred music programs found in San Antonio. In the end, the most we can hope for is that, by our living, we have brought about good. Madolyn lived that life, and we are immensely grateful for it. Rest well, Mad Sue, and may the chorus of angels greet you and lead you into paradise! 

– Jeremy Wance

From Manuel J. Rosales - Manuel wrote this note to Madolyn upon hearing that her time with us was coming to an end.

Dear Madolyn,

You are the most wonderful person for whom I have worked! The installation
and voicing of Rosales Opus 15 in University United Methodist Church was a
pleasure to accomplish with your positive and cheerful reception and support.
Once the instrument was capable of being played you brought it to life with
the beautiful spirit of your music making, like few others ever could.
Please be assured of my love and admiration for you and your special
personality and talent.

God bless you and with my love,

Manuel J Rosales
Organ Builder


Madolyn Fallis and Michael Barone

This email was sent by Michael Barone, longtime producer of Minnesota Public Radio’s Pipedreams, to Elaine George Ehlers, Madolyn’s close friend, fellow alumna, and frequent duet partner, on learning of Madolyn’s death. It is shared here with his permission.

Ah, Elaine, what a team you two were, and what a doll was Madolyn…whom I first met, I think, when the Rosales organ was installed at University UMC.  Our connections after that were not frequent but always memorable, and somewhere I have pictures of the two of us at the OHS Convention in/around Syracuse in 2014…how the years slip by! 

She was as you describe…but perhaps on beyond lovely…warm and welcoming, full of spirit and adventure, a tiger.  I offer condolences to you, her longtime pal and partner, and to those who will gather next month to mourn her passing and celebrate her being.


Michael Barone