Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Caroline Wilson Tollefson was active in various charity and community groups.


Isle music lover raised
record amount for symphony

Ellen Joan Malone / 1915-2002
More obituaries

By Pat Gee

Caroline Wilson Tollefson had music in her soul, her friends and relatives said, and she spent the last year of her life raising a record amount of money to keep the Honolulu Symphony going.

She died Thursday at the age of 48.

One of her best friends, Trudy A. Schandler-Wong, said Tollefson suffered from a liver disease and died at the Queen's Medical Center of complications stemming from pneumonia.

Tollefson chaired the Fourth Annual Symphony Ball in May, and it "was her greatest joy that we exceeded our goal" of $400,000, said Schandler-Wong, her co-chairwoman.

"Music was her passion from childhood; she played the oboe as a young girl. She had a love for music and the musicians because she knew how hard it was," Schandler-Wong said.

A concert Sunday, conducted by guest Anne Manson of the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, was dedicated to Tollefson.

That a woman conducted the concert was appropriate timing because Tollefson "always wanted to conduct, and we all felt Caroline was there, too, and would have been thrilled," Schandler-Wong said.

"There was a lot of joy being around Caroline, and we had a lot of reasons to laugh. Her husband said music was in her soul. (Her death) was truly a waste."

Born in Coronado, Calif., she moved to Hawaii about 12 years ago and joined United Airlines as manager of customer service for about 10 years.

Tollefson, who attended San Diego State University and was studying business management at Hawaii Pacific University in the past year, was a flight attendant for Pacific Southwest Airlines from the age of 19. She worked for the airlines as a manager of in-flight services and was director of labor relations before moving to Hawaii.

Tollefson was a member of the Junior League of Honolulu, served on UAL's Charitable Contributions Committee, chaired the Miss Hawaii Scholarship Pageant's Scholarship Committee and chaired the Hawaiian Humane Society's fund-raiser "Tuxes and Tails."

Samuel T. Wong, the symphony's musical director, said, "She was a fine warrior for the symphony cause and a great pillar of our musical ohana."

Friends are invited to attend a memorial at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on the beach.

Her ashes will be scattered Thursday in San Diego.

Contributions may be made in her memory to the Honolulu Symphony Youth Music Education Fund.

She is survived by husband James Tollefson and parents James and Patricia Wilson of Coronado.

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