Anne M. Kefauver, 50, writer, ex-Peabody administrator


Anne M. Kefauver, a former Peabody Conservatory of Music administrator who wrote in a humorous vein about the cancer she fought for 12 years, died of the disease Monday at Mercy Medical Center. The Towson resident was 50.

Born Anne Mansvetov in Chevy Chase, she was the daughter of Russian immigrant parents who worked for Voice of America, where her father headed the Russian language division. She enrolled at Georgetown University and studied Russian briefly, but left after less than a year so she could pursue the piano at Peabody.

"She decided she didn't want to be in international studies," said her husband of 27 years, Alan P. Kefauver, a French horn player who directs Peabody's recording arts program.

She moved to Baltimore and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees. Ms. Kefauver first worked in Peabody's placement office, and in 1981 became assistant public relations director.

"Her writing skills, warm and sympathetic personality and sense of humor were great assets in that field," said Anne Garside, Peabody's former information director. "Back then, we didn't have much money to cater receptions in a grand style. We did the work ourselves and I soon found that people didn't want to leave these gatherings, because Annie was the center of attention."

Ms. Kefauver became assistant editor of the school's newspaper, The Johns Hopkins Peabody News, and interviewed musicians and other celebrities, including composer Philip Glass, colleagues at the conservatory said.

"Annie threw herself into preparing for that interview and Glass gave her three hours, and then when the story appeared, he wrote, saying it was the most intelligent story on him he'd seen," Miss Garside said.

Ms. Kefauver's ovarian cancer was diagnosed in 1994 and she gave up her work at Peabody. Doctors told her that, statistically, her chances of surviving the next five years were 5 to 10 percent.

"When she came out of her first surgery, the first thing she said was, `How are you and Alex?'" her husband said yesterday, recalling her mention of him and their son, who is now a 15-year-old student at St. Paul's School for Boys.

During her four recurrences of cancer, Ms. Kefauver decided to write about her experiences in a privately published book, The Hair Garden and Other Essays.

The central story was about how her then-3-year-old pulled a lock of his dark, curled hair and offered it to her "to plant on your head" after chemotherapy made her temporarily bald.

She wrote of the experience: "This is the reward for pain; not survival, which is ugly and relentless; but transcendence, which falls in unheralded moments, out of the darkness, like new white blossoms, like this harvest of dark, Baroque curls offered as a pledge of love."

After Ms. Kefauver recovered sufficiently, she pursued her love of flower growing.

"I can see her taking care of her yard, on the riding mower and planting her flower beds. While fighting her cancer, her behavior and demeanor were extraordinary," said Peabody's former director, Robert Pierce, a next-door neighbor. "She had the most infectious laugh."

A memorial service will begin with family visitation at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the St. Paul's School for Boys chapel, 11152 Falls Road, Brooklandville.

She is survived by her husband and son.

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