Lia Kahler of Menemsha died on May 1 in Hingham with Thomas Huber, her husband of almost 30 years, holding her hand. She was 78.

She was born Leah K. Littlefield on Dec. 5, 1943 in upstate New York and grew up in the midwest. Her father, Albert Bartlett Littlefield, was born and raised in West Tisbury and became an expert in diesel engineering.

She graduated in 1961 from Brentwood High School in Brentwood, Mo., where she was honored for her outstanding musical ability. She graduated cum laude with a bachelor of music in voice and piano from Washington University in St. Louis and then earned a master’s degree in voice from the University of Southern California.

She trained with the UCLA Opera workshop and debuted at the Guild Opera Company in Los Angeles. As a mezzo-soprano, she sang dramatic roles in seven languages, translating each one in order to fully understand her character and the opera.

She moved to New York, then toured with the Eastern Opera and sang with Annapolis Opera, Georgia Opera and Riverside Opera. Her formal European debut was at the Holland Festival. At age 40, she landed a three-year contract as a dramatic mezzo soloist for the Musik Theater im Revier in Germany. Appointments in Nürnberg followed, as well as guest appearances in Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Hamburg and other houses.

After 13 years in Europe she returned to the U.S. and taught voice at Middlebury College and privately in New York city and Vermont.

Lia had a heart as big as her voice. By 1993 she had lost many friends to AIDS and decided to perform a concert and raise money for AIDS research. She created Catalyst Concerts created to help nonprofits raise funds. With organist Philip Dietterich and pianist Richard Gordon, she raised more than $225,000 for organizations including Island Clergy Emergency Fund for the Homeless, the Island Food Pantry, the Animal Shelter, Polly Hill Arboretum, Houses of Grace, the Veterans Assistance Fund and Darkness into Vineyard Light to support the Island Intervention Center.

In 1996, Lia and Thomas inherited her great-aunts’ cottage in Menemsha. She and Thomas enjoyed walking, visiting with friends and the glorious sunsets.

She was concerned about addiction, depression and homelessness on Martha’s Vineyard. A member of the outreach committee for the Chilmark Community Church, she decided that there was a need for more music. She organized Offerings of Music and Light, programming, performing in and engaging Island musicians for each free concert.

She was a great teacher and mentor with a gift for identifying people’s needs and helping them solve their own problems. A few years ago, she become a mediator and enrolled in the New York Peace Institute. She advised people to cheer each other on, be unafraid of learning and to remember people are all flawed and make mistakes.

In addition to her beloved husband, Thomas Huber, Lia is survived by many relatives and friends around the globe: twin sisters Ann Nelson of Ramona, Calif. and formerly of Martha’s Vineyard, and Sydna Moon and her husband Dean of Tyler, Tex.: nephew Dean Allen Moon and his wife Julie of Austin, Tex. and their children Ashley and Brittney; nephew Jeff Moon; and nephew Jon Nelson Jr. of Austin, Tex. and his children John 3rd, Tricia, Brianna and Nicholas; her cousin Lesley Vaden of Princeton, N.J.; and her niece by marriage Bridget (Katy) Moon of Tyler, TX.

Memorial donations can be made to Polly Hill Arboretum’s Littlefield Maintenance Fund at P.O. Box 561, West Tisbury, MA 02575 or, the Chilmark Community Church and the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard.