Paula Parsché, the chairwoman of the music department at Florida Southern College, has died at age 69.

Florida Southern President Anne Kerr sent a note to faculty and students Tuesday announcing Parsché’s death. It said that the school will establish a scholarship in the memory of the professor, also well known in Lakeland for her piano performances.

Parsché earned her bachelor’s degree at Florida Southern and a master’s in piano performance from the University of South Florida. She had been on the Florida Southern faculty for four decades, Kerr said in her note.

“Paula shared her world-class talent with the FSC community as well as the greater Lakeland community and beyond,” Kerr wrote. “Paula was revered by her students and colleagues and leaves a legacy of excellence and inspiration.”

The school didn’t give a cause of death.

Parsché served as Wilheimina MacDonald Chair of Music at her alma mater. She is featured on the school’s website with a statement reading in part: “My goal as a teacher and mentor is to challenge each student, at his or her level, to explore the vastness that is music. I strive to encourage students to seek means by which to gain informational context, develop and implement skills and strategies, and communicate in appropriate and diverse ways.”

As leader of the music department, Parsché filled a role previously held by her mentor, Robert MacDonald, who served as artist-in-residence during his 47 years on the faculty. He died in 2013 at age 83, and Parsché joined other faculty members in performing at a tribute to MacDonald the following year.

She accompanied Associate Professor Diane Willis Stahl, who sang “Ave Maria.”
Parsché studied performance in collaborative piano with vocals and chamber music in Vienna and Salzburg, according to her school biography. She joined the Florida Southern faculty in 1980 and taught theory as well as performance.

She received the Ben and Janice Wade Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2005. Her mother, Frances Parsché, worked as a secretary at Florida Southern for about 20 years.

Parsché often performed in Branscomb Auditorium on campus, accompanying students and fellow faculty members in concerts. She also performed often at the Tuesday Music Club, a private performance space in Lakeland that hosted recitals for nearly a century before closing in 2015.

She was a founding member of the Hollingsworth Trio, a professional chamber music group active for 25 years.

Paula is predeceased by her parents, Paul and Frankie Parsche and her brother, David Parsche.

She is survived by her loving sister, Linda Parsche; nephew, Max Parsche and numerous friends in Lakeland and Florida Southern Community.

The college will hold a memorial service at a date not yet determined, Kerr’s note said.
“It’s a sad day around here,” FSC spokesman Grant Heston said. “I know a lot of people are heartbroken.”

Condolences may be sent to the family at Heath Funeral Chapel.

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