August 7,1928 – Brooklyn, USA
February 13, 2014 – Calgary, AB
Sylvia Ruth Jones died on February 13, 2014, a half day after entering Agape Hospice, following a month in Foothills hospital.
Sylvia was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1928 and later moved to New Jersey, where she graduated from Bloomfield High School in 1946. She later graduated with a BA in Music (Phi Beta Kappa) from Rutgers University and then did graduate studies at Eastman School of Music, Rochester, N.Y. In 1951, she joined the United Methodist Church Board of Missions and was sent on a short term basis to Crandon Institute in Montevideo, Uruguay, as Director of music. She taught music and her choir performed normal classical/popular repertoires, but also presented Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in English. One of Sylvia’s pupils at Crandon was the daughter of famous classical guitarist, Segovia, so Sylvia worked with him and he played private concerts for the whole school. She also attended the daughter’s fifteenth birthday party (similar to a debutante party). Sylvia also directed five church choirs (one in English and four in Spanish). She was able to make short trips to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Chile. In 1952, she met Gordon Jones, the only geologist in Uruguay and shortly afterwards, they were engaged. In December 1954, they left for the USA and were married in February 1955 in Bloomfield, New Jersey. They then went to England and Wales, where Gordon completed his PhD. While Gordon did field work in Wales, Sylvia drove to mountain farmhouses to teach piano. In January 1956, they returned to Uruguay, where she continued many of her choir duties. In June 1956, Margaret was born, followed by Janet in April 1958. In June 1958, Sylvia went to her parent’s home in New Jersey, while Gordon took a temporary job in Buenos Aires and then in Toronto and Calgary. In February 1959, Sylvia and the two girls arrived in Calgary to join Gordon. Calgary has been the family home since then.
Sylvia quickly became engaged in music education, first at the Allied Arts Centre and later at Mount Royal University, as well as having a large number of private students. She taught piano (including music theory and history) and played in many concerts, but Sylvia’s greatest strength was always in accompanying singers and instrumentalists for exams, auditions, and special festivals. The huge Kiwanis Festival of Music awarded Sylvia special recognition for accompanying hundreds of students at each annual festival. She would rush from one auditorium to another. Sylvia’s special strength was her uncanny sight reading ability to play virtually any piano or organ music with little or no practice. Sylvia was a founding member of the Piano Diploma Association. She also played recorder with an Early Music Group. When the Southern Alberta Opera Symphony left Calgary to play in smaller cities, Sylvia would go in lieu of the Philharmonic Orchestra. Among other organizations where Sylvia played the piano accompaniment, were the University of Calgary Opera Company, the Foothills Opera, the Gilbert and Sullivan Company, Orpheus Theatre, Beth Israel, Pump House Theatre, the Memory Lane Historical Fashion Show, the Elite Eat Dinners at the Calgary Zoo, (where Sylvia would meet distinguished guests, such as Robert Bateman, Jane Goodall, and Princess Anne), the Capuccino Singers, several films, as well as the Calgary Public Library and many schools. She was the organist/pianist at Rosedale United Church for 23 years, where she also directed the junior choir and she played for the UCW and Couple’s Club performances. She also played for funerals, weddings, Burn’s Nights and other occasions in more than 40 churches in Calgary and elsewhere. All in all, music was dominant throughout Sylvia’s life and she brought to it not only skill, but a vibrant enthusiasm which fit in with her spirituality.
Although music was a dominating factor in her life, family was even more important. After arriving in Calgary, daughter Jennifer (1965) and son Andrew (1967) joined the family. She delighted in family events, which multiplied as her four children married and had children and grandchildren. Throughout her life, she kept in touch with them and other relatives throughout North America as well as Scotland, England, Australia, Austria, and Malta in addition to friends in many other countries. She had seven homes in fifty-five years in Calgary (38 years on Crescent Road in Rosedale, where the living room contained two pianos, an organ, a harpsichord, keyboards and many other instruments). The house would resound with tuba and trombone practices at 7am to opera singers at 1am.
In her early years in Calgary, Sylvia would often drive to see her parents in New Jersey and later Vermont, and to Gordon’s family on Vancouver Island. The land travel covered every province in Canada, every US state and most Mexican states as well as further afield. Travel later extended to most countries in Europe and many in Africa, Asia, Australasia, South and Central America, Antarctica, and the Caribbean. Sylvia enjoyed a variety of culture including music and food. She was especially thrilled to see the historic sites in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel and Egypt, which she had studied in language and Biblical classes. She took copious notes everywhere and promptly lost them in her filing (or piling) system.
Altogether, Sylvia led a very full life; made and kept friends easily, was always willing to go the second mile or give the shirt off her back. Even in her retirement, with failing health, she still managed to start new choirs (in English and Spanish at the Sierras condo), and to be active in her new church (Foothills United), and last home (the Lodge at Valley Ridge), as well as in concerts in Edgewater, BC. She continued to improve her Spanish by meeting with a group of ladies. She delighted in seeing her great grand children.
We will miss this very special wife, mother and grandmother.
The family of Sylvia Jones wish to acknowledge help and support which Sylvia received from Crowfoot Primary Care, especially Dr. Utigard, Helen and Jocelyn, Likewise, we wish to thank Dr. Geoghegan and his staff at the Foothills Hospital, as well as the staff of Agape Manor, who did their best to support Sylvia during her final illness. We also appreciate help and support from personnel of Foothills and Wild Rose Churches, as well as those of McInnis and Holloway.
She was predeceased by her father, Albert E. Frost, her mother, Anna C. Frost, her brother, Albert M. Frost, and her granddaughter, Chelsea Ward. She will be deeply missed by her beloved husband of 59 years, Gordon H. Jones, her four children, her twelve grandchildren and her four great grandchildren. Her children are Margaret A. Jessop (Dale), Janet E. Ward (Doug), Jennifer R. Tainsh (Darryl), all of the Calgary area and Andrew M. Jones (Cyndi) of Kitchener. The grandchildren are Katy (Nathan), Paul (Teegan), Fraser (Kathleen), Anna, Nathan (Sarah), Hailey, Noah, and Madeline, and Logan, Braden, Emily and Ethan. She had four great grandsons: Odin, Henry, Rex & Harrison.
A Celebration of Sylvia’s Life will be held at Wild Rose United Church (1317-1st Street N.W.) on Friday, February 21st, 2014 at 2 p.m. In honour of Sylvia’s vibrant personality, please wear something colorful. If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Alberta, 200, 119 – 14th Street N.W., Calgary, AB T2N 1Z6 Telephone: (403) 264-5549, www.heartandstroke.ca. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com.Print This Obituary & Condolences