Nora Louise Hulse, 88, of Lawrence, Kansas, died July 24, 2020, at the Presbyterian Manor . Her daughters were by her side.
Nora was born Feb. 27, 1932, in Clay Center, Kansas, to Andrew and Nora Carlson. Her older half-brother, Leroy, predeceased her.
Nora’s first love was music. She began playing piano by ear at the age of 3. At age 4, her mother, a graduate of Chicago’s American Conservatory of Music in the 1900s, began formally teaching her piano, then taught her pipe organ and violin.
She soon became an in-demand piano/organ accompanist and piano instructor. After listening to “Your Hit Parade” on Saturday night radio in high school, she began playing boogie woogie for her friends in high school, against her mother’s wishes.
A lifetime of juggling jazz and classical music followed. During early adulthood, Nora played ragtime music in Cripple Creek, Colorado, then studied at the Interlochen National Music Camp in Michigan, the Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Kansas State University.
She later earned a bachelor of science degree in music education in 1973, a master’s degree in music performance in 1976, a master’s degree in pipe organ performance in 1979, and a doctorate in music curriculum and education in 1988.
By the end of her career, Nora was a retired music professor, performer, writer, researche and expert in female ragtime composers. She produced five CD’s and companion music folios of women’s rag, performed at ragtime festivals across the country, did ragtime lecture recitals, co-authored an annotated ragtime lexicon and earned countless awards and certificates, including the prestigious Scott Joplin Award for her extraordinary contribution to ragtime music at the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri.
After moving to Columbia in 1966, Nora met her husband, Mark, while playing music at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor. They quickly fell in love and married the following year.
While in Columbia, they performed for 15 years on “Pepper and Friends,” a live talk show broadcast on KOMU-TV. For years, their duo, Ragtime Razzmataaz, performed at ragtime societies and jazz banjo festivals all over the country.
Nora and Mark moved to Lawrence, Kansas, in 2006 to be closer to family. In the following years, they spent every Thursday evening playing in the Junkyard Jazz band at the American Legion with many close friends and their daughter, Sue Nanninga, who contributed vocals and played ukulele. They continued to live full, busy lives together until Mark passed in 2017.
Nora is survived by her daughters, Jane Morrison and Sue Nanninga; sons Bryan Hulse, Michael Hulse and Matthew Hulse; and grandchildren Andrew Hulse, Shelby Politte, Jared Hulse and Benjamin Hulse.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the American Legion, sent in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home & Crematory, P.O. Box 1260, Lawrence, KS 66044.