Thole, Nola Matthews 3/4/2023 Kalamazoo, MI Nola Matthews Thole often said that she felt teaching was her calling, and it was profoundly true. Born on February 5, 1950, as the first child of Nolan and Kay Matthews, Nola grew up in Independence, Missouri with three siblings. At the age of three Nola began to play piano, and at the age of fourteen she began to play cello. After two years at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Nola married her first husband, John Douglas, in Independence in 1970. They moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan so that she could study cello with Herbert Butler at Western Michigan University, where she earned a degree in Music Education and Performance. Shortly after, she was accepted into the cello section of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and began teaching string instruments in the Kalamazoo Public Schools. Nola married David Thole, her husband of the past 36 years, in 1986. Nola had a passion for restoring historic homes, and so they made their home in Kalamazoo's historic district. In 1990, Nola and Dave welcomed their son Gavin. A contributor to Kalamazoo's arts community for decades, Nola performed in the Kalamazoo Symphony for almost 50 years, including years of dedicated committee service and union bargaining. She taught hundreds of students in the Kalamazoo Public Schools over almost 30 years, serving for a time as Kalamazoo Central High School's Orchestra Director and receiving an award for her teaching excellence. Nola taught many more students in the Kalamazoo Chamber Music Workshop, where she taught for almost 45 years, and in private lessons, which she began teaching in her early teenage years and continued all her life. Nola also performed with the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra, the Kalamazoo Philharmonia, and the Octocelli Cello Ensemble, and she served for a time on the board of the annual Stulberg International String Competitions. Far from diminishing her spirit, Nola's fifteen-year battle with stage-four breast cancer only strengthened her resolve to enrich the lives of those around her. Friends recently described her as deeply kind, completely loving, valiant, inspirational, determined, and graceful. Nola passed peacefully at home on March 4th while surrounded by loved ones. She is survived by her husband, David, of Kalamazoo, MI; her son, Gavin, now of Washington, D.C., and his wife Elena; her grandson, Silvio, who is 8 weeks old; and her siblings Mike Matthews (m. Jacci), Gary Matthews (m. Patty), and Debbie Robinson (m. Randy). The family is grateful for the outpourings of support. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made payable to the Kalamazoo Chamber Music Workshop and mailed to 3878 Greenleaf Circle, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, with a note that the donation is for student musicians in need of financial assistance.