The family of Barbara Maier Gustern, an 87-year-old New Yorker who worked extensively in Broadway as a vocal coach, announced her death on Tuesday after she was attacked in her Chelsea neighborhood unprovoked last week.

Gustern sustained a traumatic brain injury after being pushed to the ground by an unidentified woman outside her apartment building last Thursday night. She was on the way to see a student’s show at Joe’s Pub, something her former vocal coaching students said she would do all the time.

Gustern’s grandson, AJ, announced her passing on her Facebook page Tuesday morning. “We have lost one of the brightest little flames to ever grace this world,” he began the Facebook post. “Bobbob, I love you, you are and always will be my heart.”

The coach moved to New York from Indiana and began working in vocal coaching after not getting the show business career she hoped for. She has been celebrated as a teacher, though, and worked with the likes of Taylor Mac, Blondie’s own Debbie Harry, and was even brought on to work on the 2019 revival of Oklahoma! She had reportedly been developing her own musical cabaret show with her frequent collaborators at the time of her murder.

There has been an increase in random street attacks in urban areas across America, with most of the victims being elderly women and even more being of Asian descent. Just a day after Gustern’s attack on Thursday of last week, a 67-year-old woman was attacked in her apartment building’s vestibule in Yonkers, New York. She was beaten repeatedly over 125 times in what was called “one of the most appalling attacks I have ever seen” by Yonkers police commissioner John J. Mueller. The victim survived but is still in the hospital in stable condition.

On Sunday, the NYPD provided a description of the suspect that shoved Gustern who remains at large. She is a pale white woman with long red/brown hair and was wearing a dark peacoat along with a dark shoulder bag on the night of the attack. Any witnesses with knowledge of the situation are encouraged to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.


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