In September, with great sorrow the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music announced the passing of our beloved benefactress, Honey Scheidt. In 2000, Rudi and Honey Scheidt endowed the School with a multimillion-dollar gift that transformed the Department of Music to the School of Music. With another multi-million-dollar gift, the Scheidt family supported the upcoming construction of a new music center which will be named for them. But Honey was so much more than a donor. With her constant presence and interest in our faculty and students, she was an inspiration for all of us.
Honey’s impact spread far beyond the walls of the School of Music. Her work within the community helped expand Memphis’ cultural and artistic environment, helping shape it as the cultural center that we know today. Her work with the Wonder Series at The Pyramid is brought to mind by the statue of Ramesees II which greets students as they enter the School of Music Building.
Honey served on boards and donated to many organizations throughout the community including the University of Memphis, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Memphis College of Art and Memphis Arts Festival. She was a leader in the region, seen in her work serving on the Board of the Memphis Library, Board of the Germantown Performing Arts Center, and the Foundation Board of the Memphis Public Library.
“I was born with a silver spoon, but better than that, with a philanthropic spoon in my mouth,” Honey recalled in an interview with the Memphis Public Library in 2013, “My [family] taught us that was the most important thing to do in life.”
Her work earned her many recognitions and awards. She received the Humanitarian Award of National Council for Christians and Jews (1999), the Tennessee Governor’s Art Leadership Award (2001) and the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis’ Philanthropy and Leadership Award. Her efforts are not only marked by her awards, but also by the kind words people within our community have for her.
A friend of both Honey and her recently deceased husband, Rudi, Shelly Baur said, “Whether we were eating lunch at a cozy Memphis restaurant or sipping tea at their home–surrounded by international treasures–Honey had wonderful tales to tell. She wrapped me in genuine hospitality and fascinating stores about travel, giving back to the community, life-long learning, her strong faith and all things University of Memphis.”
The impact that Honey and Rudi had on the community is remembered, especially by those who received their grace in the arts. “There is zero chance I, or almost anyone, will ever do as much for the arts in Memphis as they did, but I am eternally grateful for what they did, and the example they set,” stated Ned Canty, General Director for Opera Memphis, “They will eternally be remembered.”
It is with great fondness that we reminisce on the impact that Honey Scheidt had on our lives at the School of Music. We send our heartfelt condolences to the entire family. Thank you Honey Scheidt, for all you have given us.