Matilda Katherine 'Tillie' French

Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Matilda Katherine "Tillie" French, 88, died Dec. 8, 2003, in Seattle.

She was born Feb. 25, 1915, in Douglas to Martin and Jennie Williams (S.kwaan) Holst. She was from the Killerwhale Fin House in Klukwan of the Dakl'aweid (Killerwhale Clan) and her Tlingit name was Kaanataas'.

She was a noted mezzo-soprano who graduated from Juneau High School in 1931 at the age of 16. She attended the University of Washington for one year and completed her studies at Oregon State College, where she majored in public school music and languages.

Later she studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels, Belgium. At age 23 she was a highly regarded singer and "maturity of voice," finishing studies done by people seven years her senior. Also a noted pianist, she was part of the Sacramento Symphony Orchestra, and she appeared across the United States and sang on radio over the "large broadcasting systems."

A 1938 Empire review of her concert says, "Miss Holst's charming personality added greatly to the success of her concert last evening. She was complete without stage affectation and mannerisms and impressed her audience with her prose and dignity. None doubts that a brilliant career is in waiting for this talented young mezzo-soprano, who has a deserving start with six year of study and practice to her credit." She was accompanied on the piano by Carol Beery-Davis at this concert. Prior to this concert, she had studied in Milan, Italy.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Loran Cloudsley French, 22 years ago; and her sister, Anne Holost (Zuboff) Petersen.

She is survived by her children, Chloe French and Kimberly MacLoud; and grandchildren, Mikayla Simone Waugh, Loran Tayo Waugh, Mischa Kandinski, and Alison Jones. She is also survived by Keet Naa Tlaa (Killerwhale Clan Mother), Margaret Abbott.

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