Charlene Wilson

Charlene Wilson

Charlene Wilson, musician and cello teacher, passed away on Saturday, January 4, at the age of 81.

She will be fondly remembered by her daughters, Charlyn Wilson of Tualatin, OR, and Cynthia Halle of Upperco, MD; her son James Wilson of Tehachapi, CA; her sister Darrell Florence of Laguna Niguel, CA; her nephew Curt Lichter and her niece Monica Lichter Campbell; her grandchildren Ellen, Nicholas and John; her daughter and sons in-law Jean Wilson, Jeffrey Schwartz and Ned Halle; her four grand-nieces and one grand-nephew, as well as her students, who she adored.

Charlene was born in Los Angeles, CA, in 1932 to Charlotte and Edward Hultsch. She started playing the cello in junior high, attended Occidental College and shortly thereafter became assistant principal cellist in the Honolulu Symphony. She married her first husband, Arlin Wilson, in 1952 and lovingly raised their three children in the Los Angeles area.

As her children grew, her career as a cellist and teacher did as well. Charlene played in many orchestras, including the Pasadena Symphony, the Santa Barbara Symphony and the San Jose Symphony. She also loved to play chamber music with friends. She taught many cello students in her home studio and also gave her time to help with youth orchestras and cello ensembles. Charlene was a pioneer in adapting the Suzuki violin teaching method to the cello, and authored four books on teaching Suzuki cello. As a Suzuki Teacher Trainer she enjoyed teaching at workshops around the country, connecting with and sharing her knowledge with her fellow cello teachers. She was on the founding board of Los Angeles Violoncello Society, and also served as President of the Oregon Cello Society for a number of years.

Charlene was also married to Gordon Playman for over twenty years. Together they moved from Santa Barbara, CA to the Portland area in 1991, where she re-established her cello studio.

What brought Charlene the most joy and satisfaction was teaching her cello students. She was committed to helping each student grow as a musician as well as a person, and she enjoyed keeping in touch with her students as they went on to play professionally or to continue the cello for their own enjoyment. Her students kept her going, especially during the last two years during her cancer treatments. She continued to teach cello until a month before her passing.

Her other passions included travel (in the U.S., Mexico and Europe), trains, gardening, the color red, family genealogy and history. The Episcopal Church provided her both spiritual and social support.

Family was very important to her and she diligently kept in touch with relatives near and far. She loved nothing better than spending time with family and close friends, and was the consummate hostess. Her upbeat spirit and caring will be greatly missed.

A Celebration of Life will be held Friday, February 28, 11 am, at Christ Church Episcopal Parish, 1060 Chandler Rd., Lake Oswego, OR 97034.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Charlene’s memory can be made to the Oregon Cello Society, PO Box 4035, Portland, OR 97208. Please designate “Charlene Wilson Scholarship.”—See more at: