Winifred Jaeger: 1926 – 2022
September 29, 1926 – February 10, 2022
Winifred Jaeger did not discover the joys of writing until her mature years. She kept active in her retirement by gardening, teaching piano, and recorder playing (her lifelong dream), and keeping an eye out for haiku/senryu possibilities. Numerous times she and Mary K. Whittington hosted Haiku Northwest meetings in their home when they lived in Kirkland, Washington. Mary lived from June 21, 1941 to July 4, 2022, passing away just a few months after Wini.
young hands finger
the bronze face of Hemingway—
his nostrils, his beard
where the hemlock was
a patch of winter sky
an unfinished rose bed—
planting bare root
shards on the floor
the blue pottery bowl
one of a pair
two months of rain—
Musician, composer, conductor, translator, teacher, performer, author, poet
by Connie Hutchison
Most of us became acquainted with Winifred (Wini) Jaeger in the early 1990s when she began attending the haiku meetings at Francine Porad’s home on Mercer Island, Washington. We came to know her as an accomplished musician, teacher of recorder and piano, and poet. She was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 29, 1926. Her family moved to Germany due to her mother’s illness, and she lived there during the war. While her sister remained in Germany, Wini and her mother returned to New York in 1948, where Wini studied piano and likely attended college. In 1950 she met Erich Katz (1900–1973) a German-born musicologist, composer, music critic, musician, and professor who had fled the Nazis in 1939. He was teaching at several colleges in New York City, including the New York College of Music (NYCM), and was the director of the American Recorder Society (ARS). Wini soon took on half the duties of the ARS, played in performances and took part in the Musicians’ Workshop that Katz led. Erich and Wini built the ARS into a national organization, doing much of the work at the kitchen table in Wini’s apartment. To this day, Wini is listed as Honorary Vice-President of the ARS and Honorary Lifetime Member.
Katz retired from the NYCM and the ARS in 1959 and he and Wini moved to the house they had spent several years building in Santa Barbara, California. In Santa Barbara, they were active in the recorder scene where they met Mary K. Whittington, who was working as a student counselor at the University of California, and they became good friends. Erich Katz died in 1973 at age 72. Wini and Mary moved to Kirkland, Washington in 1979 and both became contributors to the music and literary communities. They both wrote longer poems and were active with the Redmond Association of Spokenword. Wini also became an active member of Haiku Northwest. They hosted haiku meetings in their home several times in the 1990s and early 2000s. We always enjoyed seeing the collection of musical instruments around us as we shared our poems.
Mary and Wini joined the Seattle Recorder Society (SRS) and taught piano and recorder in their home. Wini performed in and conducted the SRS, where she and Mary met other players from the Eastside interested in forming a sister chapter. In the fall of 1980, Wini and Mary founded the Moss Bay Recorder Society (MBRS), which Wini led for more than 30 years, and which became a chapter of the American Recorder Society.
In the 1990s Wini helped establish the Erich Katz Collection in the American Music Research Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder, organizing, inventorying, and donating materials to the archive. She translated 92 letters written from 1929 to 1973 between Katz and famous German composer Carl Orff. In 2004, the collection was acquired by the Recorder Music Center of the Archives and Special Collections of Regis University in Denver, Colorado.
For many years, Wini presented a Christmas program at the Kirkland library. The public was invited to join in singing carols, some translated from the German, accompanied by MBRS members playing recorders that varied in size and range, from soprano to bass. Each program was different and included classic and less well-known carols; these were often hand-transcribed settings by herself or Erich Katz.
rain turns to
snow turns to
ice turns to
Sunlight Through Rain: A Northwest Haiku Year, 1996
Robert Major and Francine Porad, editors
This haiku appears as part of an original singing round, words and music written by Winifred Jaeger in 1996, published in The Round Book: Rounds Kids Love to Sing, coauthored with Bothell librarian Margaret Read MacDonald (North Haven, Connecticut: Linnet Books, 1999). In this same publication, Mary Whittington published music to lyrics by Lewis Carroll from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; her song is entitled “How Doth the Little Crocodile.”
Wini died at age 95 in Redmond, Washington. Wini and Mary had been living in the same assisted living center, with Wini in the section devoted to memory care. She survived a COVID-19 infection in 2020 after being hospitalized for a month. Mary went every day to memory care to have lunch with Wini. On February 10, 2022, they ate their lunch and Wini was singing in German. They returned her to her room for a nap and she peacefully passed away. Mary died five months later, on July 4, 2022.
I remember Wini and Mary with fondness and special acknowledgement for Mary’s casual “Do you know anyone who sings?” as I stood in their living room in 1999. Mary sang tenor with the Kirkland Choral Society (KCS) and my answer to that question has enriched my life and led to more than two decades of making music with KCS.
Thank you, Wini and Mary; may your memories be forever surrounded by music and poetry.
Photo by Mary Whittington, taken on July 4, 2011, at the home of Allison Ohlinger.
Mary Whittington and Wini Jaeger on Whidbey Island, 1993.
Wini Jaeger, second from the right, early 1950s concert at the New College of Music. Photo from the Erich Katz Papers, Regis University, Denver, Colorado.
Wini Jaeger, seated third from the right, mid 1950s workshop at the New College of Music, Erich Katz directing. Photo from the Erich Katz Papers, Regis University, Denver, Colorado.
Wini Jaeger, right, mid 1950s workshop at the New College of Music. Photo from the Erich Katz Papers, Regis University, Denver, Colorado.
Erich Katz and Wini Jaeger, probably 1960s.
Wini Jaeger with cat Maya, 2009.
Wini Jaeger with soprano recorder, Mary Whittington with alto recorder, 2011 or earlier.
Wini Jaeger and Mary Whittington, celebrating Wini’s 88th birthday, September 29, 2014.
Erich Katz and Wini Jaeger, Santa Barbara, California, December 1970.
Wini Jaeger conducting the Moss Bay Recorder Society, circa 2009.
Thank you to Curtis Manley for photo research.