Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Thelma M. Volger, Ph.D., passed away on June 2, 2015, at 98 years of age, in Medford, WI, where she was a resident of Aspirus Care & Rehab for the last several years. Born on December 21, 1916, Dr. Volger was the daughter of Muscatine, Iowa, residents Charles A. and Clara E. (nee Schwab) Henderson and sister to Merle C. Henderson. Thelma’s passions for music and teaching were fundamental to her life. Her musical accomplishments included: composing original music for plays, hymns and a wedding mass; hosting the Children’s Hour on KWPC; choir director; accomplished pianist and organist; earning her Ph.D. in music at the University of Iowa; professor with SUNY – Buffalo, Graylands Teachers College and the University of Western Australia; and founding and directing the Ankeny Academy of Music. Her research in the United States and Australia led to the development of the Language Delay Replication Project where she investigated the use of musical tones and rhythm patterns to help create language for children with autism. The study was featured in a documentary produced by Iowa Public Television. Thelma also loved flower and herb gardening, bird watching and was an avid reader.
Dr. Thelma Volger is survived by 3 daughters, Mary Eichlin, Thelma Winchell and her husband Robert Winchell, D.O., and Helen Volger and her husband Paul Weitzel, and 1 son, George Volger and his wife Patricia Volger. She is also survived by 11 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, 4 great-great grandchildren, as well as nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, her former husband, George J. Volger, 1 daughter, Dorothy, 2 granddaughters and 1 great-granddaughter.
The family will hold a memorial service in Iowa at a future date.
As a tribute, a practice room in the future University of Iowa School of Music will be named in Dr. Volger’s memory. If desired, a tax deductible donation may be made to the University of Iowa Foundation. Donations may be made online at selecting the Fund for Rebuilding the School of Music Building, or a check may be sent to The University of Iowa Foundation, P.O. Box 4550, Iowa City, IA 52244-4550. Kindly note that any donation is in memory of Thelma M. Volger, Ph.D.
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