Umi Southworth had planned to move with daughter to Nashville

Colleagues organized a farewell party

ksaltz@herald-leader.comJune 15, 2010 

Umi Southworth never made it to her own goodbye party.

She had quit her Lexington job and planned to move to Nashville to support her daughter Almira Fawn Southworth, a 12-year-old singer and songwriter.

Her Fazoli's co-workers waited with a cake to bid her farewell on her last day Wednesday, but she didn't show up.

That night, Umi Southworth, 44, was found beaten behind her home in the Meadowthorpe neighborhood. She died Thursday of severe head injuries. Police questioned and released her husband, Don Southworth.

Buck Williams, owner of Progressive Global Agency, a booking and management company, said Umi and Almira began renting a place in Nashville in May and planned to move soon. Don Southworth was not moving with his wife and daughter, Williams said.

He said his agency has represented Almira for about a year.

David Craig, vice president for human relations at Fazoli's corporate office in Lexington, confirmed Umi Southworth was leaving her job as an accountant after two years to support Almira's career.

"Her daughter's music career was really accelerating, and she had to be there for her," he said.

Umi Southworth also had left her previous job as an eighth-grade science teacher at Lexington Traditional Magnet School because of her daughter's budding career.

LTMS Principal Clay Goode said Southworth, who taught during the 2006-07 school year, was unable to commit to an extended teaching position because she wanted to travel with Almira.

Goode described Umi Southworth as a "very intelligent lady with a good heart."

This Wednesday, her former students, co-workers and neighbors will gather to honor her memory.

Joe Collins, president of the Meadowthorpe Neighborhood Association, said those who knew Umi Southworth and her family will assemble for a candlelight vigil at 9 p.m. on Antique Drive, the street behind the Southworth home at 1486 Meadowthorpe Drive.

Collins said his children attended school with Almira and sent her a Facebook, message to let her know about the memorial for her mother.

He did not know whether Almira would be able to attend.

Lexington police will not comment on Almira's whereabouts. Williams, the Nashville talent agent, said police would not tell him how to contact Almira.

Collins said the vigil will include music, and Almira's former music teacher will attend.

He said Meadowthorpe is a close-knit neighborhood, so people wanted a chance to address the tragedy of Umi Southworth's death.

"This is an opportunity to reach out and let her kids know that people care about them," Collins said. Almira has a younger sister, but Umi Southworth was not the younger child's mother.

The neighborhood association has set up an education memorial fund for Almira.

Bob Layton, vice president of the organization, said the fund will be administered independent of any relative to Almira.

"This will help Almira with some of her expenses but also allows people in the community to express themselves," Layton said.

Contributions can be made at any Central Bank to the Umi Southworth Memorial Fund.

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