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Hundreds fill church in NYC to commemorate Barbara Maier Gustern, who was killed in attack

Beloved 87-year-old vocal coach Barbara Maier Gustern, who was shoved to death in a shocking attack this month, was remembered on Saturday as a “force of nature” who lived a life without fear.

Gustern was walking West 28th Street on March 10 when Lauren Pazienza, 26, allegedly called her a “slut” and pushed her onto the sidewalk. Gustern, a singer-turned-teacher whose clients included Debbie Harry and Broadway artists, died March 15.

Pazienza, who lives in Astoria, turned herself in on Tuesday morning. She was charged with manslaughter and assault and released from Rikers Island on Friday after her parents posted bail.

The unprovoked attack on Gustern took place opposite the Church of the Holy Apostles, where hundreds of mourners gathered.

A bell rang 87 times to mark each year in Gustern’s life

“Eight decades of unparalleled integrity and love lost in a random act of senseless violence,” read the program for the service, which said Gustern was attacked “from the window view of her home in Chelsea.”

Mourners hug AJ Gustern, with his back to the camera, grandson of Barbara Maier Gustern
The memorial service was held at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea.
James Keivom for the NY Post
People gather for a memorial service for Barbara Maier Gustern at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea.
People gather at a memorial service in Chelsea for Gustern.
James Keivom for the NY Post
Program for a memorial service for Barbara Maier Gustern
One person holds the program for Gustern’s memorial service.
James Keivom for the NY Post

Gustern earned a master’s degree in counseling and clinical psychology from Columbia University before discovering his passion for singing. She has performed with the New York City Opera, Fifth Avenue Opera, the Greenwich Symphony and on numerous cruise ship tours, the program says.

Rev. Anna Pearson, the church leader, said Gustern recently spoke about the challenges of a career in the performing arts and how negative she would feel if she wasn’t hired.

“I’ve made a decision. I’ve decided to be happy for the success of others,” Pearson recalled. “I’ve decided not to compare myself to others and to celebrate the good wherever I see it, no matter who benefited from it.”

Mourners hug AJ Gustern, who wears glasses, grandson of Barbara Maier Gustern.
Barbara Maier Gustern’s grandson is hugged at his grandmother’s memorial.
James Keivom for the NY Post
Barbara Maier Gustern
The famous singing couch died on March 15 after being pushed.
Tamara Beckwith/NY Post

Gustern’s husband Joe, who appeared in “Phamtom of the Opera,” died in 2017. Their only child, Katherine, died in 2003.

Gustern’s grandson, AJ Gustern, said his grandmother “worked so hard to make me feel worthy of my own humanity.”

“I can say with certainty that if my ‘BobBob’ hadn’t gotten up to fill the void my mom left, I wouldn’t be here with all of you today,” he said.

AJ Gustern
AJ Gustern attends his grandmother’s memorial service.
James Keivom for the NY Post

The service included a recording of Gustern and her husband singing “Sunday’s Child.” The crowd jumped up and applauded when it was over.

Meanwhile, there was no sign of Gustern’s assailant as of Saturday at her apartment building in Astoria or at her parents’ home in Port Jefferson, Long Island.

Her father Daniel, who was walking a dog at a nearby beach, declined to comment.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/26/hundreds-fill-nyc-church-to-remember-barbara-maier-gustern-killed-in-attack/ Hundreds fill church in NYC to commemorate Barbara Maier Gustern, who was killed in attack

JACLYN DIAZ

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