Return to PSTOS Home Page
Welcome to PSTOS

Sybil Rubini (1892-1999)
Back to the Northwest Organists page

From a May 29, 1999 Seattle Times article by by Carole Beers, Seattle Times staff reporter.
Sybil Rubini, 106, former silent-movie organist
Sybil Ella Rubini, a former seamstress and silent-movie organist, wanted to live long enough to say she had lived in three centuries.
On the go and stylishly so since the beginning, she almost made it.
Mrs. Rubini died Monday (May 24) of pneumonia. She was 106.
With fresh lipstick, a bright outfit and a carefully coiffed wig, she celebrated her last birthday in September with a televised bash at Leena's Cafe in Shoreline.
She ate lunch there daily. She walked over from the apartment where she had moved with her Wurlitzer organ after her husband of 49 years, barber Stanley Rubini, died in 1976.
Mrs. Rubini went into an assisted-living facility just two months ago.
Born in 1892 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, she grew up there and in St. Joseph, Mo. She studied piano as a girl.
She came to Seattle by train with her family, lived in the Fremont neighborhood and attended Lincoln High School. Her father ran a horse-drawn cartage business.
At age 16 she met sailor Sig Tafil at the Luna Park amusement center in West Seattle. Their marriage ended in divorce, and she married his brother, Paul Tafil, who later died.
She used the insurance money from his death to take organ lessons. She began to play for silent films at Seattle theaters, including the Paramount. She used cue sheets, playing a theme for every movie, including "Phantom of the Opera." But she also improvised.
"You had to keep alert all the time, watching the screen with one eye and keeping the other on the stops so you wouldn't pull the wrong one and produce a sound that wasn't appropriate," she once said.
She married Rubini in 1928, after the advent of "talkies."
Mrs. Rubini sang with a friend on local radio in the 1930s, worked as a dressmaker on Beacon Hill, and played for fashion shows including those at Frederick & Nelson department store. Later, she treated her grandchildren to lunches there.
She worked as a nursing assistant during World War II, then threw herself into volunteer work with women's auxiliaries, including that of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Friends, shopping and reading were perennial pleasures. So was seeing her children and their children, who adored her.
"She enjoyed things, she was interested in things," said her former daughter-in-law, Eleanor Tafil of Seattle. "She accepted everything as it came along, even earrings for boys. She just flew with the times."
Among her survivors are her children, William Tafil of Seattle; Stanley Rubini, Eugene, Ore.; Rose Kaplan, Des Moines, Wash.; Rita Huckins, Auburn; and Edith Hodges, Reno.
She also is survived by 10 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren. Her daughter Della Craft predeceased her.
A service is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 14901 30th Ave. N.E. in Shoreline.

About this site© PSTOS, 1998-2004