The Block Island Times

Madelene Dorothy Salster, 91

Mar 24, 2014

Madelene Dorothy (Sala) Salster, 91, of Simsbury and Glastonbury, Conn., and Block Island, Rhode Island, passed away peacefully on Feb. 27, 2014. She was the beloved wife of the late Harold G. Salster.

Born in New York City in January, 1923, the daughter of Victor and Marietta (Garlasco) Sala, Madelene attended New York City and Glastonbury public schools. Upon graduation from high school, she attended Westminster Choir College, in Princeton, N.J., on a full scholarship.

After graduating from Westminster, Madelene began a long and satisfying career as a music teacher. Her first teaching position was at the College of the Sacred Heart, in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. Then, after returning to Connecticut, she continued her notable career as music educator and Director of Music at The Ethel Walker School in Simsbury.

In 1949, the same year that she began at Walker’s, Madelene married Harold Salster. They had three sons in the following three years.

It was at Walker’s that Madelene’s talent for connecting with her students really shone, and she and her students put together many breathtaking programs of ecumenical and secular music. This included Christmas programs, complete with a Santa and gifts for the children of faculty, an operetta each spring, and music for the weekly chapel services.

It was not only as a teacher but also as a true friend that Madelene formed lifelong relationships with her students. She and many of her former students stayed in touch, and she took much pleasure in the phone calls and letters that she received. At the School’s 100th anniversary, in 2012, “Miss Sala” (as she was known) was warmly greeted by hugs from many former students, and she cherished each renewed acquaintance.

In 1987, Madelene retired from Walker’s and turned her attention to repairing her old farmhouse on Block Island. She soon became a year-round resident of the island and was able to continue her love of teaching music by coaching local singers both in choirs and as individuals.

She became part of the island’s fabric and was befriended by not only islanders, but also by the pilots and staff of New England Airlines, with whom she made many trips to and from the Block.

Besides family and music, Madelene loved gardening, devoting special attention to her indoor plants as she became less able to tend to her outdoor gardens. She also devoted much time and energy to caring for the island’s feral cats and was instrumental in helping assure the spaying and neutering of as many as possible. A lucky few were adopted by Madelene.

Madelene’s passing will leave an emptiness in the lives of those she touched and she will be sorely missed by her friends and family.

Madelene was predeceased by both of her parents, her husband Harold, and her sister, Irene.

She is survived by her three sons: John Salster, of Glastonbury, Conn.; Paul Salster of Holyoke, Mass., and his partner, Patricia Gallant; Peter Salster, his wife Linda Jacobs, and their two sons, Matthew Salster and Ryan Salster, of Barkhamsted, Conn., and a step-granddaughter, Lisa (Salster) Schweitzer and her husband Keith, of Lebanon, Conn.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Madelene’s memory to Volunteers for Animals, P.O. Box 402, Block Island, R.I., or to The Mary D. Fund, P.O. Box 323, Block Island, R.I. 02807

Funeral services were held Saturday, March 8, 2014, at the Glastonbury Funeral Home, 450 New London Tnpk., Glastonbury, Conn., 06033. Burial was private. To leave an online condolence, please visit

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.