COOPERSTOWN – Word has been received that Jacqueline Taliaferro Amols, the first president of Glimmerglass Opera, who lived in Cooperstown for 40 years before moving to New Orleans in 2010, passed away quietly on Aug. 26, 2017. She was 91 years old.
Jacqueline grew up as a member of a military family, residing on many different posts both in the U.S. and abroad. Her father, Army Col. Edward H. Taliaferro, Jr., born and raised in Bunkie, La., served his country first in World War I, then again in World War II.
Her mother, Marguerite Tournier, was from Toulon, France. She worked at the military aviation-training program at the University of Alabama, where she taught French to pilots going oversees, later settling in at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.
Jacqueline was born in Fort Monroe, Va., in 1925, the youngest of three. Her elder brothers Edward and Frances each attended university before joining the service, one in the Navy and one in the Marines. Uncertain of her path, Jacqueline attended the Ward-Belmont School in Nashville, Tenn., and the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, finally landing at Penn State where she majored in art and journalism.
With a desire to travel, she worked first at the Pentagon, in the Chief of Staff Branch in order to attain the appropriate training, guidance and experience to enter into the Foreign Service. In 1949, Jacqueline left the U.S. to serve in the Special Services Section of the State Department in the American Embassy in Paris. Her years in Europe after World War II, personally experiencing the scars that war leaves, framed her perspective and remained important throughout her life. When she returned to The States, she continued working for the Department of State, in the Bureau of Far Eastern Affairs.
After a number of years, Jacqueline relocated to New York City, where she began a career in advertising. It was there she met and fell in love with William Amols, a neurologist at the Neurological Institute of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York. They married in 1957, moved to Irvington-on-Hudson, and together embarked on the resurrection and renovation of a lovely Victorian home. They subsequently had three children, Marguerite, Nathaniel and Abigail.
An avid devotee of local history, she, along with her husband, spearheaded the preservation of the Old Croton Aqueduct in Irvington-on-Hudson, one of the largest and earliest water conduits for the city of New York.
When her husband was invited to head up the Neurological Department at Bassett Hospital, the family moved to Cooperstown in 1969, where Jacqueline became involved in and volunteered for a number of community organizations. She, along with several art-oriented friends crafted the initial plans for the Glimmerglass Opera – now the Glimmerglass Festival – a summer repertory that has gained international reputation. She was the budding organization’s first president in 1975.
Jacqueline was extremely fond of gardening, and spent many happy years cultivating lovely perennial and vegetable gardens at each of her homes. She maintained memberships in both local and national garden clubs.
After the death of her husband, she moved with her daughter Abigail and her family to New Orleans, LA, where she developed strong friendships with the senior group at the Jewish Community Center.
Among her friends and family, Jacqueline will be best remembered as a compassionate and loving gentle soul. She embodied a special lightness, almost a kind of naiveté, but also deep warmth along with true wisdom. Of her charms, one stands out, and that was her endless capacity to make up words – her husband called them Jackie-isms – where nouns devolved into whosywhatsit and whatyamacallit. Memories of her are sure to be partnered with a smile and maybe even a little giggle.
She is survived by her children Marguerite “Gigi” (Chris Hagan) of Naples, Fla., Nathaniel Amols of Tampa, Fla., and Abigail (Torsten Gipperich), and one grandchild Peyton Reed Gipperich, of New Orleans. Also her many nieces and nephews: Edward Taliaferro (Gale), Denise Caouki, Nicole Taliaferro (Philip), Jane Norman (Michael), Christie Cutright, Michael Taliaferro (Vicki Lynn), Jeffrey Taliaferro (Anne), and Victoria Carney (Terry) and their many children and grandchildren. She has one remaining first cousin, Nel Steele, of Los Angeles, Calif.