Last Von Trapp singer, who served as missionary, dies at 99

The Trapp Family Singers give their first Boston concert, Dec. 12, 1941. Photo by Larry Gordon. Credit: Metropolitan Music Bureau INC, NYC via Wikimedia.

On Feb. 18 Maria Franziska von Trapp passed away after spending her life as a performer alongside her six siblings, and later as a lay-missionary with her step-mother in Papua New Guinea.

Maria von Trapp was the third child and second oldest daughter of Austrian Naval Captain Georg von Trapp and his first wife Agathe Whitehead von Trapp. She was the last surviving member of the original seven children in the Trapp Family Singers.

The group became famous in the 1959 Broadway musical and 1965 film “The Sound of Music” which recounts their story, and in which Maria was portrayed as the character Louisa.

Loosely based on a book written by Georg's second wife, Maria Augusta von Trapp, the movie details the story of an Austrian woman who was going to be a nun, but married the widower after being a nanny to his seven children and teaching the family music.

After fleeing Nazi-Germany in 1938 for fear of reprisals after declining to sing at Hitler's birthday party as well as Georg von Trapp's refusal to accept a commission in the German Navy, the family eventually settled down in Vermont in the early 1940s and opened a ski lodge in Stowe.

The family's website recalls how Maria grew up surrounded by music, and that before the family left Germany they would travel across Europe giving concerts and special tours.

Maria and her six siblings, who are now all deceased, were born to Capt. von Trapp and his first wife Agathe, and are survived by half-siblings Rosemarie, Eleonore, and Johannes, who are the children of  Georg and his second wife Maria, but who were not portrayed in the film.

The family continued to perform and give tours together until 1955, at which time Maria and her step-mother, Maria Augusta, decided to become lay-missionaries in Papua New Guinea, where Maria eventually adopted a son named Kikuli Mwanukuzi.

According Fox News, Maria's half-brother Johannes von Trapp said that she died at her home in Vermont, noting that “She was a lovely woman who was one of the few truly good people...There wasn't a mean or miserable bone in her body. I think everyone who knew her would agree with that.”

Johannes lives in Vermont along with his two sisters, and is currently the president of the Trapp Family Lodge, which still operates, while.

Sister Eleonore von Trapp-Campbell is currently living in Waitsfield, Vermont, while the eldest of the three, Rosemarie von Trapp, is a retired teacher and also travels extensively as a missionary.


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