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Alice Branagan, 102, New Rochelle Music Teacher

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Alice Tobin Branagan of New Rochelle died July 27 at United Hebrew Geriatric Center in New Rochelle. She was 102.

A vocal and music teacher, Branagan was the first female professor hired at Iona College. She appeared on Broadway and also taught at the College of New Rochelle and Manhattan School of Music.

Branagan was born Sept. 13, 1909, in Elgin, Ill., to Theresa Zimmermann Tobin and Dr. John R. Tobin.  She graduated from Elgin High School and St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Ind., with a bachelor's degree in music and voice theory.

Her operatic debut came in 1934 with the Chicago Civic Opera Company. She continued to work throughout the Midwest until she appeared for a season with the Schubert Organization at Jones Beach in New York in 1937.

The following year, she was hired by the American Lyric Theatre, where she made her first appearance on Broadway in "The Devil and Daniel Webster." Branagan was the alto soloist at Presbyterian Church in New Rochelle and met and married Franklyn "Mick" Branagan.

She then returned to Broadway with Rodgers and Hammerstein in the leading role of Nettie in "Carousel."

In 1947, Branagan joined the faculty of the College of New Rochelle, teaching voice and music appreciation. She became a soloist for the Reformed Church in Bronxville and Temple Sinai in Mount Vernon. In 1953, Branagan received a master's degree in music and music education from Columbia University. She joined the faculty of Iona Preparatory School in 1959, teaching the glee club.

Branagan also accepted a position as assistant professor of music at Iona College. She was the first female professor hired at Iona College and she continued to teach until her retirement as a professor emeritus in 1979.

She was the soloist at St. John's Episcopal Church in Yonkers from 1968 to 1984. After her retirement, Branagan continued to teach voice at College of New Rochelle and Iona. She also gave private lessons at her home studio in Manhattan and at her apartment in Willow Towers Assisted Living until the age of 99.

A memorial Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Sept. 8 at Chapel of the Holy Family at the College of New Rochelle. She will be interred in Elgin on her 103rd birthday. Lloyd Maxcy and Sons Beauchamp Chapel is handling arrangements.

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