• Fri. Sep 23rd, 2022

Midland’s Mair Alsgaard is remembered as a dedicated music maker

ByRandall B. Phelps

Jun 24, 2022

Midland’s music community has lost a beloved teacher and musician. Eluned Mair Alsgaard, 90, died on June 17.

Mair was born on December 24, 1931 in Cardiff, Wales, the only child of David and Eluned (Phillips) Godwin. She grew up in the mining village of Six Bells, Abertillery, where she developed an interest in music. She takes piano lessons and participates in competitions, winning numerous prizes.

Jim Hohmeyer of Midland, a friend of Mair, remembers the stories she shared about her piano competitions. Candidates had to memorize a piece of music; although Alsgaard had the music memorized, she could not perform it unless the music was nearby. Fortunately, she found a workaround.


“She couldn’t perform the piece without the music near her,” Hohmeyer said. “She would put the music on the bench and then she would sit on the bench so the judges couldn’t see her.”

Mair attended Weymouth College where she completed a degree in music. While in college, she traveled to Saginaw to visit relatives. During her visit, her aunt offered her a blind date with University of Michigan graduate Richard Alsgaard. The two continued to correspond by mail after Mair’s return to Wales and while Richard was serving in the United States Army. Two years later, Richard proposed to Mair over the phone; she moved to Saginaw and the couple married on October 9, 1954.

Mair’s daughter, Sheila Nye of Saginaw, said her mother’s greatest quality was her strength.

“Moving from Wales to the United States at a young age was not easy, I’m sure,” Nye said. “When they started, they didn’t have a lot of money.”

The Alsgaards’ first son, David, was born ill, so Richard and Mair took him to Henry Ford Hospital for treatment. Richard worked for Dow Corning, but the company did not offer health insurance for newborns. To help pay the medical bills, Mair got a job as a social worker covering nearby rural areas.

Eluned Mair Alsgaard, 90, died on June 17. She is survived by her four children, David (Kelly) Alsgaard, Reverend Erik (Sheila) George, Ian (Victoria) Alsgaard and Sheila (Lenny) Nye; six grandchildren and five great-grandsons. Her husband died in 2018.

A celebration of Mair’s life is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 20 at the Midland County Club. Arrangements are made by Ware-Smith-Woolever Funeral Directors.


After a few years she started teaching piano away from home and continued for over 60 years. Mair gave piano lessons until this spring, connecting with her students via Zoom during the pandemic.

“She influenced a ton of kids with her love of music,” said David Alsgaard, her son.

Mair’s dedication to music continued as she served as Music Director of Blessed Sacrament Church for 19 years, served as Director of Music and Liturgy for St. Brigid’s Church, and Resource Coordinator music for the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw. After retirement, Mair served as organist and music director at St. John’s Episcopal Church for many years until spring 2022.

Amon Eady, music director at St. John’s, has worked with Mair for the past five years. He talked about Mair’s dedication to his job and how he appreciated his dry sense of humor.

“She was up in church every day until she physically couldn’t anymore,” Eady said.

One of Eady’s favorite memories was traveling to Mair’s house during the pandemic to remotely stream Sunday church services. They would alternate who would provide bagels, donuts, or breakfast sandwiches.

“As unideal as it was, it was so much fun,” Eady said.

Hohmeyer first met Maier when he was director of the Music Society at the Midland Center for the Arts. She encouraged him to join the Michigan Music Teachers Association; today he is deeply involved in the organization and oversees the organization’s student achievement test.

“She was very good at involving people in music organizations,” Hohmeyer said.

Mair pursued her passion for music by joining the Saginaw Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, served as president of the Midland Symphony Board, and served as president of the Symphony League twice. She has also been involved with the Board of Community Concerts, Midland Historical Society, Matrix Midland Steering Committee, and Friends of the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library.

“She was very fair and generous. She has always cared more about others than herself. She always loved giving back and felt it was a higher calling,” David said. “Mom was unable to say ‘no’. If anyone asked her for help or to volunteer for this or to replace that, she was there.

Mair has received several accolades for his contributions to the music community. In 1975, the Midland Jaycee Auxiliary named Mair the Woman of the Year. The following year, she was named Midland Musician of the Year by the Midland Symphony Orchestra Society. Her final honor was being named Music Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Music Teachers Association in October 2019.

“I think of the number of lives she touched, not just as a wife and mother, but as a choir director, organist, social worker, friend and teacher,” Nye said. “She always taught me to be nice to people.”

Mair is survived by her four children, David (Kelly) Alsgaard, Reverend Erik (Sheila) George, Ian (Victoria) Alsgaard and Sheila (Lenny) Nye; six grandchildren and five great-grandsons. Her husband died in 2018.

A celebration of Mair’s life is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 20 at the Midland County Club. Arrangements are made by Ware-Smith-Woolever Funeral Directors.