In Memory

Patricia Dowell (Scimeca)

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09/24/13 12:31 PM #1    

Kathy Turner (Baum)

What a beautiful voice and what a beautiful friend.  She has joined the heavenly choir.  She had such a great spirit about her.  I really enjoyed seeing and talking with her at our last reunion.

10/27/13 10:23 PM #2    

Dick Stafford

New York Opera Fund Named for Former Garland Student

The fine arts programs in the Garland Independent School District have long been known across the state as exceptional, often launching graduates into some of the best collegiate art, music and theatre academic programs available for students.

In the late 1960’s, the Garland High School fine arts department developed students who have had magnificent careers in the performing arts. One of those was soprano Patricia Dowell, at 1969 graduate, taught by GHS choral director Jim Henderson. Dowell, recently battled cancer, following a long career in New York City.  In her early years in New York, Patricia was twice a finalist in the New York Metropolitan Opera’s annual young singer’s competition, and was a recipient of the distinguished Liederkranz Foundation’s Richard Wagner Competition.

In performances, Patricia created the memorable role of Anne Hutchinson in the world premiere of the opera Mary Dyer, and portrayed Cassandra in New York’s Trojan Women in 1982. At the encouragement of her husband, Dr. Michael Scimeca, Patricia expanded her talents to teaching opera to young woman who came to New York to study opera the last two decades and begin their own careers.

Patricia Dowell Scimeca developed cancer about eight years ago and successfully battled the disease into remission. Soon after, she returned to teaching and her love of opera, and once again demonstrated her love of music that began as a teenager in Garland schools.

Her strength and talent led her to the role of The Witch in Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, as well as the title role in Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos with the New York Opera Project.  However, last year the cancer returned. Former Garland High School graduate, Dick Stafford, and friend of Patricia recently noted fond memories of his GHS pal.

“Patricia was always a step beyond us all. She sang soprano in the Acappella Choir, winning many state honors. She also appeared as Calamity in the GHS musical Calamity Jane, entertaining Garland audiences with her extraordinary voice, her beautiful stage presence, and most of all, her strength of character,” Stafford said, recanting Dowell’s education in the Garland school system.

            Last month, in New York City, Patricia Dowell Scimeca lost her life to her second battle with cancer. Scores of New York opera enthusiasts attended her funeral at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. The celebration included dozens of opera singers and chorus members from New York. Her brother Alex Dowell, and father Hughlon Dowell are still Garland residents.

            Opera America in New York has begun a fund, named for the former Garland student, to assist new opera singers in the New York metropolitan area with their careers.  The fund is for current opera professionals, many from communities just like Garland,  who may need monetary assistance with day-to-day living expenses while pursuing a music career. The demanding hours of professional opera singers, and sometimes limited income make it difficult to pursue opera and have a full time second career to fund daily obligations. If you would like to help young people, many just like Patricia from all over the United States, you can make a gift in her name to Opera America. Donations to the new program called the Patricia Dowell Fund for Emerging Singers at Opera America can be mailed to 330 Seventh Ave., New York, New York 10001. Checks should be made payable to Opera America, with the fund noted on the bottom of the check. More information is available at

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