Lisa Ward, the internationally acclaimed Swiss singer and yodeler known to thousands because of her appearances at Wallowa Countys traditional Swiss-Bavarian festival, has died. She was 78.
She died of natural causes in her sleep at her home near Sacramento Nov. 2, just five weeks after her final performance at Oregons Alpenfest on Saturday, Oct. 28.
Many people considered Lisa the best Swiss yodeler in the U.S., and we were fortunate to have her at Alpenfest for so many years, said Chuck Anderson, Alpenfests alpenmeister. She was a delight to know and her singing was so moving it often brought a tear to my eye we really will miss her.
Primarily because of a friendship with Joe and Rita Ehrler of Joseph, she sang at the first Alpenfest in 1976 and many Alpenfests including the most recent two in the festivals new three-community format.
Miss Ward had told Alpenfest officials that after this years Alpenfest she planned to retire from appearing at multi-day festivals because of age. As an expression of appreciation, at the conclusion of her last performance she was presented with a resolution of thanks from the Alpenfest Board of Directors and a bouquet of roses.
Born in Dubendorf, Switzerland, Miss Ward immigrated to the U.S. in 1958 at age 23. She quickly established herself as a premiere yodeler and enthralled audiences at countless Swiss festivals and other events in the U.S., Canada and Switzerland. Her quick, lively yodeling technique made her a featured soloist at the hugely popular Mt. Angel (Ore.) Oktoberfest for more than 35 years and at Oktoberfests in Hawaii for more than 30 years.