Charity Tillemann-Dick: Mormon Singer
Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick was a soprano and composer who overcame two double-lung transplants and continued to perform post surgery. She was also a motivational speaker. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Charity was born in Denver, Colorado. Her father, Timber Dick, was a successful inventor and businessman. He died after a car accident. Her grandmother Nancy Dick served as the first woman Lieutenant Governor of Colorado. She is also the granddaughter of Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the U.S. Congress.
She received her bachelor’s degree with high honors from Regis University. She studied music at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest.
She was a full lyric coloratura soprano. She performed in concert halls throughout the United States and in Europe and Asia.
While completing paperwork to serve as a full-time missionary in 2004, she was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary hypertension, a disease that causes the arteries in the lungs to harden, which forces the heart to work harder. In 2005, she became the national spokesperson for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association hoping to raise awareness, increase federal research funding, expand stem cell research, and promote preventative and alternative medicine. She testified before the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the U.S. Congress. In 2009, her disorder required a double-lung transplant that she received at the Cleveland Clinic. After complications from rejection of the organs, she received a second double-lung transplant in 2012.
Tillemann-Dick was able to perform just eight months after her first transplant. She performed and spoke at numerous conferences and events, including the Sixth Annual National Conference on Organ Donation. In 2017 she performed onstage at the Lung Transplant Project Gala in New York City. She also appeared on the CBS Morning Show and CNN. She was featured on Ted.com, PBS, NPR, and BBC Radio.
She released her debut album, American Grace, in 2014 and it reached #1 on the Billboard Traditional Classical charts.
She lived in Washington, DC, with her husband. She passed away on April 24, 2019, at the age of 35. Her family posted on her Facebook page:
- "This morning, life’s curtain closed on one of its consummate heroines. Our beloved Charity passed peacefully with her husband, mother, and siblings at her side and sunshine on her face.
- "Our hearts are broken. In this moment, the world is dark. But Charity’s rays extend far beyond her tragic finale on this earthly stage. Her light continues to illuminate the hearts of thousands and, in that way, Charity is with us always. She is our hero. We love her."