Maria von Trapp, the last surviving member of the Trapp Family Singers, whose story inspired the Sound of Music has died. The second-eldest daughter of the musical family died on Tuesday in Stowe, Vt. of natural causes at age 99, reports the Associated Press. Maria, who was portrayed as Louisa in the Broadway musical and film, was the third child of Austrian Naval Capt. Georg Johannes von Trapp and Agathe Whitehead von Trapp, who had seven children. After the death of Baron von Trapp’s first wife, Maria Kutschera was hired to teach the children. But the aspiring nun ended up falling in love and marrying von Trapp in 1927 and wrote a 1949 book that ended up becoming the loose inspiration for the musical.
The von Trapp family escaped Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938 and never returned from a concert tour in the United States, where they settled in Vermont and opened a ski lodge.
“It was a surprise that she was the one in the family to live the longest because ever since she was a child she suffered from a weak heart,” family friend Marianne Dorfer who runs the von Trapp Villa Hotel in Salzburg, told the Austrian Times. “It was the fact that she suffered from this that her father decided to hire Maria von Trapp to teach her and her brothers and sisters. That of course then led to one of the most remarkable musical partnerships of the last century.”