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February 22, 2014

Maria von Trapp, last surviving member of original musical clan, dies at 99

STOWE, Vt. — Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member and second-eldest daughter of the musical family whose escape from Nazi-occupied Austria was the basis for "The Sound of Music," has died. She was 99.

Von Trapp died at her home in Vermont on Tuesday, according to her brother Johannes von Trapp.

"She was a lovely woman who was one of the few truly good people," he said. "There wasn't a mean or miserable bone in her body. I think everyone who knew her would agree with that."

Maria von Trapp was the last surviving member of the seven original Trapp Family Singers made famous in "The Sound of Music." Their story was turned into a Broadway musical in 1959 and a 1965 film, which won the Oscar for best picture. Trapp was portrayed as Louisa in the film and musical.

She was the third child and second-oldest daughter of Austrian Naval Capt. Georg von Trapp and his first wife, Agathe Whitehead von Trapp. Their seven children were the basis for the singing family in the musical and film.

"The Sound of Music" was based loosely on a 1949 book by von Trapp's second wife, also Maria von Trapp, who died in 1987. It tells the story of an Austrian woman who married a widower with seven children and teaches them music.

In 1938, the family escaped from Nazi-occupied Austria. After they arrived in New York, the family became popular with concert audiences. The family eventually settled in Vermont, where they opened a ski lodge in Stowe.

Von Trapp played accordion and taught Austrian dance with sister Rosmarie at the lodge.

She wrote in a biography posted on the Trapp Family's website that she was born in the Austrian Alps after her family fled fighting from World War I.

"Growing up we were surrounded by music. Father played the violin, accordion and mandolin. Mother played piano and violin," she wrote. "I have fond memories of our grandmother playing the piano for us after meals."

Her biography on the website also said that she worked as a lay missionary in Papua, New Guinea.

Rosmarie von Trapp, Johannes von Trapp and Eleonore Von Trapp Campbell were born to Georg von Trapp and Maria von Trapp.

 

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