SUNY New Paltz mourns the loss of 104 year-old benefactor

Nadia SheppardThe College was saddened to learn of the passing of Nadia Shepard of Ellenville, N.Y. earlier this week. Nadia, along with her late husband, Max, were great supporters of performing arts programs at SUNY New Paltz and were a welcomed presence on campus.

The Shepards came to Ellenville in the 1960s when Max was recruited to work for Channel Master. As a Juilliard-trained musician, Nadia taught piano for more than six decades and concluded her lessons only last year. She worked tirelessly to bring music into people’s lives and better serve her community. Nadia was the first woman to join the Board of Trustees of the Ellenville Library, where she would often hold concerts. Her connections to the region grew through her relationships with others who shared her love of music, including former SUNY New Paltz President Alice Chandler.

The president invited Nadia to join the Music in the Mountains Board, the predecessor of the widely successful PianoSummer Institute/Festival. Nadia and Max were loyal supporters of PianoSummer since the program’s formation 20 years ago – attending master classes, lectures, and concerts. They developed a close friendship with University Professor Vladimir Feltsman, Artistic Director for PianoSummer.

Said Professor Feltsman, “Nadia Shepard was a one-of-a-kind person. Anyone who was lucky enough to get to know her, benefited. She dedicated her life to music and accomplished a great deal in making music accessible to the folks of the Hudson Valley and New Paltz. We all owe a debt of gratitude to her.”

Shortly before Max’s death, the Shepards approached emerita SUNY New Paltz President Alice Chandler to discuss how they could contribute to the music program. Max and Nadia decided to generously support the renovation of a 125-seat recital hall, named in their honor, in College Hall. The Nadia and Max Shepard Recital Hall has held countless student recitals and chamber music performances. Nadia, along with her husband, were critical patrons of the College’s performing arts programs and will be remembered for their kindness, generosity, and friendship to the college community.

Said Emerita President Chandler, “Nadia Shepard was a remarkable woman with a profound passion for music and a keen, incisive mind. She was deeply committed to SUNY New Paltz and was a dedicated board member for the Music in the Mountains concerts, which preceded the current PianoSummer program.”

Vladimir Feltsman will perform a solo recital in McKenna Theatre in July during the 20th anniversary of the PianoSummer Institute. He will dedicate his performance in Nadia’s memory.