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Ruth Rotondi

Ruth Rotondi is pictured here playing cello in the Butte Symphony.

Longtime Butte piano teacher Ruth Rotondi, 95, was killed Wednesday in a two-car traffic accident south of Polson that also left four people injured.

Rotondi was a passenger in a Subaru northbound on Highway 35 that was sideswiped by an oncoming Oldsmobile that failed to negotiate a turn, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.

The driver of the Oldsmobile, an 18-year-old man from Appleton, Wisconsin, was injured, as were three other occupants of the Subaru in which Rotondi was riding.

All five were transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Polson, where Rotondi died.

It was not immediately known whether the driver of the Oldsmobile was cited.

Rotondi was honored in 2015 by the Music Teachers National Association at the organization’s national convention. She was twice named Montana Music Teacher of the Year.

Rotondi, a nationally certified teacher of music, was born in 1923 in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Oberlin College, where she majored in political science and minored in music and gave a senior recital in 1945 at the Music Conservatory at Oberlin.

She moved to Butte with her husband, physician Leonard Rotondi, who took a “temporary” physician position that ended up lasting three decades. Leonard Rotondi died at age 86 in April 2000.

Rotondi earned a certificate in piano pedagogy from the Diller-Quaile School of Music, where she also taught piano. She became a member of Montana State Music Teachers Association, serving as competitions chair, foundation chair, and historian. She served twice as president of the Butte association.

Rotondi, a cellist, played for many years with the Butte Symphony.

Her son Jim Rotondi, a professional jazz trumpeter, credited his mother’s influence for starting him on his musical path. “My mom...was sort of my initial musical influence. She set the rules in the family. My father enforced the rules, but she set the rule that all of the kids needed to study the piano,” he told The Montana Standard in a May 2017 interview.

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