Birch, Mary Elizabeth 5/23/1931 - 10/28/2020 Kalamazoo Obituary for Mary Elizabeth Birch Mary Elizabeth (Beth) Birch, age 89, died peacefully October 28. She was born May 23, 1931, in Racine, Wisconsin, to Gilbert and Kathryn Hansen. Mary Beth was Valedictorian of the Northwestern University class of 1953. She was a pianist and harpsichordist, who taught piano privately and at Kalamazoo College for forty years, as well as serving as staff accompanist at the College. She was a co-founder of the Kalamazoo Chamber Music Society. She was harpsichordist for the Kalamazoo Bach Festival for many years, and also specialized in performing on the fortepiano, historical predecessor of the modern piano. Over a span of fifteen years, she produced and performed in a series of concerts entitled "The Fortepiano in Ensemble." Mary Beth was awarded the Kalamazoo Medal of Arts in 2003. She is preceded in death by her husband Jae Birch and her sister Joan Sajdik. She is survived by her sister Barbara Tracy, her sons Drachen Birch (Xen Gryphon) and Steven Birch (Shawnda), and daughter Laura Van Tuyl, seven grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and long-time companion, Larry Smith. Memorial gifts may be directed to the Kalamazoo Bach Festival or to the Kalamazoo College Department of Music. While visiting Mary's webpage at www.avinkcremation.com please sign the guestbook by lighting a candle, and/or sharing a memory with the family.