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Katherine

Peach Mayer

THE FIRST LADY OF OPERA

Honored January, 1985

Katherine 'Peach' Mayer

Philanthropist, arts patron and political activist, Katherine "Peach" Mayer acquired the name Peach as a child when her family doctor insisted that Katherine had "cheeks like a peach."

Peach was born in 1905 to George and Berta Van Stone. Her father came to Santa Fe in 1896, seeking a climate that would help him recover from a pulmonary ailment.

When Peach and her brother, Tom, were small children, the Van Stones moved to Estancia, New Mexico, where her father owned a store and raised sheep. Music highlighted the family's evenings; George played the violin, and Berta the piano. The Van Stones returned to Santa Fe in 1912, the year New Mexico became a state, when George was elected state corporation commissioner. George died in 1914. Berta taught piano lessons and worked as curator of the Museum of Fine Arts to support her children.


While in high school Peach played a two-barrel organ at the Paris Theatre to earn money for college. She played basketball, was a cheerleader, sang in the glee club, and was a member of the drama club. When a South American company came to Santa Fe to perform Rigoletto in the former Elks Theatre, Peach became an opera aficionado. She served as Santa Fe Opera Board president for many years.

Seventeen-year-old Peach graduated from Santa Fe High School in 1922 and began teaching school in Cerrillos. She then studied for a year in Boston at Miss Wheelock's Kindergarten School, and received a scholarship to Colorado College in Colorado Springs, where she was elected president of the junior class at a time when women weren't considered presidential material. Peach graduated summa cum laude and returned to Santa Fe to teach at the Brownmoor School for Girls.

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes