Helen Kimzey Plowman
Helen Kimzey Plowman, an accomplished pianist and accompanist who began her musical career at the age of six, died on Oct. 19, 2021 in Auburn, CA, at the age of 91.
Helen (“Kim”), was born June 3, 1930, in San Francisco, and was adopted and raised by Robert “Bob” and Hazel (Berg) Kimzey, in San Jose, CA. Hazel Berg was from Minneota.
Helen attended Pala School, and graduated from San Jose High School and San Jose State University, with a degree in Music and Education. Her first teaching assignment was at the Kamehameha Schools, in Honolulu, Hawaii, before coming back to California to teach music in numerous elementary through high schools, with her position as choral and band director at Peterson High school being one of her favorites.
While serving as staff accompanist and coach at San Jose State, she began her close friendship with Irene Dalis, Diva of the Metropolitan Opera Company. When Miss Dalis came to SJS, she, Helen, and Barbara Barrett started the Opera Workshop program, which now is well known as Opera San Jose. Before the opera company had an orchestra, Helen was the orchestra, and that was an exciting time in her musical life.
Helen and her husband, Dr. Paul D. Plowman, shared their talents in many places over their many years together, including Cool, CA, where Helen was involved with the Music on the Divide concert series, and in Murphys, CA, where she was the Minister of Music at the First Congregational Church. While in Murphys for many years, she produced, and performed with, the “Sounds of the Season” Christmas concerts at the Ironstone Winery, often featuring the Singing Nuns, as well as many other fine artists.
She was also a founding member, and Grand Dame, of the LaDeDa Red Hat/Purple Dress Society in Murphys, where she had lots of fun and laughter with her wonderful friends.
Kim and Paul also spent some time living in northern Washington State, where Kim regularly returned to volunteer her musical talents and fundraising efforts to help Habitat for Humanity and the Skagit Community Concert Band.
Among the many artists with whom she worked are Maestro James Guthrie, Maestro George Cleve, Irene Dalis, Jess Thomas, Gary Karr, Joan Jaques, Clement Hutchinson, Sigurd Rauscher, William Trimble, Mark Seiver and Matthew Potterton. Helen received recognition and accolades from many groups, but the ones most special to her were from the Salvation Army, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Distinguished Alumni Award / Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society (San Jose State).
Being adopted, and raised as an only child, she knew that she did have a biological, older sister, and she was fortunate to find her (Evelyn Medeiros), along with a younger brother (Ed Freyslaben) and another sister (Sandy Spiterri) that she hadn’t been aware of. They became great friends, and this added immense pleasure and joy to her already full life.
Helen was preceded in death by her late husband, Paul Plowman. She had four children with her first husband, Daniel G. Peterson: Erik (Nancy), Ingrid (Tom Carter), Daniel A., & Nels (Toni), two step-sons, Glen Plowman (Shawn), Bruce Plowman (Kristen), and several granddaughters.
Her friends and family will miss her immense energy, mischievous behavior, happy birthday phone calls with vocal and piano serenades, her friendly nature with strangers and uncanny ability to make friends and always find a common connection with everyone she met, along with her fighting spirit to champion causes for the little guy.
In order for Helen’s love of music and advocacy for musical education of our youth endures, the family requests that, in lieu of flowers, remembrances be made to the Sierra Strings Music School, 24216 White Fir Drive, Twain Harte, California, 95383.