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Columbia Missourian

Lisbeth Kay Yasuda remembered for her dedication to music

By Bobby Watson
January 18, 2012 | 8:24 p.m. CST

A lifelong musician, Lisbeth Kay Yasuda was as dedicated to teaching young music-lovers as she was to perfecting her own weekly performances for Sunday services at First Baptist Church in Columbia.

"When Lisbeth played violin, her whole heart was in it, not just the body and mechanics of the music," her father, Hirotsugu Koge Yasuda, said. "That is what people liked about her playing. Lisbeth delivered to the heart of the audience."


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Lisbeth Kay Yasuda of Columbia died after a prolonged battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. She was 33.

Ms. Yasuda was born Nov. 30, 1978, in Rolla, to Hirotsugu Koge and Gerda Lisbeth Yasuda.

Ms. Yasuda graduated from Hickman High School in 1998 and from MU in 2005, where she studied German and music. Her parents said she was musically-oriented since infancy and keenly interested in learning to play all her life.

Hirotsugu Yasuda said his daughter intuitively learned music from her mother as an infant. Everyday, Ms. Yasuda's mother made up a tune that the two would sing on their way to check the mail. Once, when Ms. Yasuda was about 6 months old, her mother was surprised by a snake on the road and stopped singing. But Ms. Yasuda picked up the high notes and didn't miss a beat.

"She was very special," her mother said. "She couldn't live without the music. That was her passion."

Ms. Yasuda began teaching violin and piano parttime in middle school and continued doing so through her high school and university education. Although she held other jobs at Dryer's Shoes and Cherry Street Artisan, her mother said that when Ms. Yasuda taught, it was for the love of music, never for the money.

Ms. Yasuda played during Sunday services at both First Baptist Church on East Broadway and Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Locust Street and performed often at the Cherry Street Artisan cafe, with pianist Rachel AuBuchon and flutist Lisa Thill as the Lirali Trio.

Ms. Yasuda stopped teaching and playing when she was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in May 2011, but only when the chemotherapy completely drained her strength did Ms. Yasuda cancel all her lessons, her mother said. 

Ms. Yasuda is survived by her parents, Hirotsugu Koge and Gerda Lisbeth Yasuda of Columbia; two brothers, Ken Eric Yasuda and his wife, Soyoun, and Akira Yasuda; and other relatives in Sweden, Germany, Japan and Korea.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church, 1112 E. Broadway. A reception will follow.

Memorial contributions can be made to the youth group activity fund at First Baptist Church, 1112 E, Broadway, Columbia, MO, 65201.