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Brower Family Starts Scholarship For Musicians

SOCORRO, N.M. June 12, 2014 – The family of former Tech professor Dr. Kay Brower recently established a music scholarship for Tech students. The Kay and Elise Brower Music Scholarship and will be available to incoming freshmen and current Tech students who participate in the music programs at Tech. The application is available on line at https://www.nmt.edu/new-giving/endowments-and-funds/3288-kay-brower-scholarship or at the Financial Aid website.

Brower died in Socorro on January 4, 2014, at the age of 85. His wife, Elise and daughters Karen Brower Darnall of Camarillo, Calif., and Candace Brower of Albuquerque created the scholarship to honor Kay’s lifelong love of music.

A longtime professor of chemistry, Dr. Kay Robert Brower is remembered as a gifted scientist, a dedicated teacher, and a man who influenced his family’s destinies and enriched the Socorro community through his intense love for classical music.

A lifelong love for music and movies began in Brower’s childhood when he would escape the realities of growing up during the Great Depression by going to the movies and listening to the music. Those experiences ignited a lifelong passion. Brower became enthralled with classical music, and it may have been then, daydreaming in a darkened theater, that he first began to think about having his own musical conservatory – someday.

He was determined to have a musical family and to live a musical life, and that life began in earnest in Socorro. The family lived on “faculty hill” until Tech offered professors an opportunity to lease land. The Browers built a home custom-designed with a high ceiling to accommodate a pipe organ, which the couple had saved money to buy. In short, Kay designed his home, and his family, with music at the core.

After settling down in Socorro, Kay and Elise discovered that among the residents with musical abilities, there were no string players, so they decided to fill the musical gap by having their daughters learn to play string instruments. Karen and Candace had no choice.

“Our family was oriented around music, and Dad was extremely willful as to what our family life would be like,” Candace said. “He was an avid amateur musician in the best sense of the word.”

“I learned the oboe because Kay said the community needed an oboist,” said Elise. She also schooled her husband in the elements of music, basically starting from scratch. His own experience as a string player didn’t begin until Brower was well into adulthood. He started with the viola; and, in his 50s, began to play the cello.

Kay had always dreamed of having a house with a pipe organ. In 1969, he had an eight-rank, custom-designed pipe organ built for the Brower home. He also built instruments himself that included two harpsichords, a viola d’gamba, a number of woodwind instruments, and a small tracker organ.

Both Kay and Elise helped found the Community Concert Series in the 1960s, an organization that over time morphed into the New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series. Kay also served as the longtime treasurer of the Socorro County Historical Society, having acquired an appreciation for local history as a natural outgrowth of his reading. As treasurer, Brower was the first to research and invest Society funds. His love for documentation led him to photograph all the historical images on display at First State Bank, which he shared with the Society.

A memorial service for Kay Brower will be held July 4 in Socorro. In lieu of flowers, those interested are encouraged to donate to the Kay and Elise Brower Music Scholarship Fund. To contribute to the fund, please click here.

– NMT –

Portions of this article are taken from an earlier article.