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JONES, Sylvia Ruth (nee Frost)

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.

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Condolence Messages

  1. So sorry to hear of Sylvia’s passing. I have many fond memories of Sylvia from the first time I met her. She accompanied me as a singer while studying with Polyna Savridi. It was always amazing how she could play and watch her babies at the same time. Sylvia was always a wonderful example to me of a kind, giving and sharing person. One who was always interested in others. She will be missed by many of us who have loved her over the years.

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  2. Sylvia led such an interesting full life. She touched so many people over the years with her music and her ability to get people to talk. She left a wonderful legacy in her family with so many of them being musical and creative. My thoughts are with you.

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  3. Roy &Rene' Bracegirdle :

    Our Heart-felt condolences to the whole family.
    We have happy memories of amongst other things.Foothill’s Opera , Trial By Jury, The Royal
    Troubadours, Silver Stars and concerts all over the place.
    To All MAY PEACE BE WITH YOU.
    Roy & Rene (leROY) Bracegirdle

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  4. Glenn & Paula Smith :

    It sounds like Sylvia was a very special lady who made the most of all the gifts and abilities God gave her. We’ll keep you all in our prayers as you celebrate her life, remember her impact and say your final earthly ‘Good-byes’.
    Love and hugs to all,

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  5. Jeremy & Sue MacKenzie :

    We are saddened by the news of Sylvia’s passing but blessed and honoured to have known her. She was inordinately generous in sharing her time, her encouragement, her enduring good humour and her zest for life. Her contribution to the Cappuccino Singers in their early years cannot be over estimated. It was a joy to know you Sylvia!

    Sincere condolences to the whole family. Know that she was loved and appreciated by so many.

    Jeremy & Sue MacKenzie

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  6. My condolences to all of Sylvia’s family. I remember many rehearsals with the Tuesday Opera Group and other companies both at your home and throughout the city. Sylvia is truly a special lady.

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  7. Rebecca & John Pomeroy :

    Our thoughts are with you at this sad time. We will always carry the best memories of Sylvia. Her humor, the always present glint in her eye and her uplifting attitude lifted spirits and brought joy wherever she went and to whoever she met. She will truly be missed by many and will not soon be forgotten.

    Rebecca & John Pomeroy

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  8. I wish I could attend. Sylvia was a dynamic woman, a dedicated mother and she will be missed. I will miss helping with the Christmas crossword puzzles and playing the bells on Boxing day. I am sending love and support to all the family and friends.

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  9. Joyce and Dave Martin :

    Deeply saddened to hear about Mrs. Jones. She was a wonderful lady and brought some terrific music into my life and the life of Rosedale church. May her love comfort you -her children and husband, and the faith she lived help to sustain you as you go through these difficult times. God Bless.
    Much love.

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  10. I want to thank Sylvia’s family for sharing their mom with me and the rest of the Cappuccino Singers for so many years. She was so talented, supportive and patient with us all. I remember her giving her time and her home for many Cappuccino potlucks with her plate of ice cream, mustard and hotdog (all mixed together), while making sure everyone had what they wanted to eat. We are greatful for the many blessed memories we had with Sylvia. We loved her dearly and were sad but understanding when it was time to give her back to her family. She was a very special lady. Sincerely, Pat Baceda and Linda Troke

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  11. Gordon and family,
    I will miss Sylvia! She was a good friend, happy, friendly and always upbeat! She contributed so much to the life here in the condo, and to my life personally! I can just image her already leading massive choirs in God’s heavenly Kingdom! May God bless and comfort you!

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  12. Dave & Lynn Rowley :

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Sylvia Jones. Her enthusiasm for life was infectious and we will cherish the memories of time spent with her.
    Dave & Lynn Rowley

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  13. Gordon I was so sorry to read about Sylvia, you must have many wonderful memories.
    Keep them by your side at this difficult time.
    Joan and Gordon Holland

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  14. Dear Family of Sylvia:
    I was one of the Cappuccino Singers – but only joined after Sylvia was no longer our “regular” accompanist – but I heard lots about her. She did still help us out with some special events and filled in for our “regular”. I can tell you that Sylvia was much beloved by the Cappuccino Theatre group for her spirit and her enthusiasm. I heard many funny stories about her loveable eccentricities over the years. Once we visited Sylvia at her home for some occasion; I remember we talked about her frequent travels through Mexico – I think in a camper (VW) van. I went to use the bathroom and laughed to see what I saw – there must have been 20 bathing suits strung out to dry throughout the room! The impression I have is of a woman who lived a great and adventuresome life – full on – with zest, true style and no regrets. I am happy to have known her – even just a little – she was very much loved and appreciated by her singers. She touched many lives and you must be very proud.

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  15. Jorge & Heidy Aviles :

    When I first moved to Calgary from Argentina, some 35 years ago, Sylvia became not only my favourite accompanist but an amazing mentor. When I was offered last minute roles with the Opera, she would stay up till the wee hours of the night helping me memorize the parts so I would do well at rehearsals and auditions. Her friendship lasted for decades and she was even instrumental in getting our daughter Celeste to love music while being her very first piano teacher. I can still remember going to pick Celeste up from her lesson and finding them both having a tea party right by the piano…
    Sylvia will always have a special place in our hearts…
    Till we meet again, dearest friend!

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  16. Jona and Marty Way :

    To all the Jones family, our deepest condolences on the loss of your matriarch. Sylvia touched so many lives over the years; our first contact was through Rosedale United Church. She was the organist at our wedding and I met the girls through CGIT. It was nice that over the years our family’s lives crossed paths many times, at Mountview School and through the Stampede Showband. We will be thinking of you today as you say goodbye to a truly wonderful lady.

    Marty and Jona Way

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  17. Lowell and Heather Harder :

    Doug and Jan
    We appreciated the service. You brought much honour to your mom.
    Please know that we are standing with you at this time.
    God bless you
    Lowell and Heather

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  18. Fred and Chery Pynn :

    Dear Margaret and family,
    We are deeply sorry to hear about your mother, Sylvia’s passing. She had an amazing life and a wonderful family with whom her memory will live on. May you find comfort and strength in friends, family and faith.
    With our sincere sympathy,
    Cheryl and Fred

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  19. Halley Girvitz :

    Hello.

    I was sad to read of the passing of your dear mother and grandmother. My mother, OBM, was a student of Jim Wilkins, as was my uncle. Sylvia was often the accompianist at their yearly recitals. I have warm memories of this delightful, warm, smiling, engaging woman. She was a wonderful pianist and from reading her obituary, much more. May the caring thoughts of a stranger, offer you some comfort as my memories are from the 1970’s, so go back a long time. It is the impact of those warm memories of your mother that last all these years.
    May you know no more sorrow.
    With Deepest Sympathy,
    Halley Girvitz

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  20. Ronald A. Brewer :

    Dear Gordon,

    In your grief, I hope you can dig up old memories to help you at this time. God bless you.

    Ronald

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  21. To the Jones family,

    We were sorry to hear of the loss of your wife, mother and grandmother and we extend our heartfelt condolences to you.

    Sylvia was often the accompanist for one or another of the Ginzer children at various musical events here in Calgary. While we, personally, greatly cherished her important contribution to our own young musical lives and acknowledged her wonderful accompaniments, important musical suggestions, and her sunny, positive attitude, we can also say that we were only a few of many music students in the city who recognized Sylvia as a tremendous musician and wonderful person. We all loved her and could rely on her strong and accurate pianistic abilities, the ease with which she could sight read difficult music, and the fact that she could subdue frazzled nerves with a confident demeanor and a lovely, encouraging smile. Her hectic schedule sometimes meant that she would leave little Andrew with our own mother as she dashed about various rooms in a venue to accompany a wide variety of students. Our family, in particular, has very fond memories of those times.

    Sylvia leaves a phenomenal musical legacy in this city and she will be extremely missed.

    You are in our thoughts and prayers during these difficult times.

    Ruth, Frances, Nancy, Maurice and Matthew Ginzer

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  22. I was fortunate to play a two piano selection with Sylvia in a program for Piano Workshop many years ago, and I will never forget it. I could never match her skill, but playing with her was an absolute delight, in her living room with pianos and many other possessions. She leaves an unmatchable legacy to all who made her acquaintance, and will keep their private memories of her deep in their hearts. May that be a comforting thought to the wonderful family she leaves behind.

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  23. Chris Svoboda :

    I was so sorry to hear of Sylvia’s passing and unhappy that I couldn’t attend her funeral. Sylvia has been a friend through CFUW club and I so vividly recall her playing at the Christmas banquets and all of us singing carols. Sylvia also taught our daughter Dagny to play the piano, and she always asked how she was. She was such a positive and kind person and I miss her.

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  24. In 1953 I moved with my family (for 3 years) to Uruguay. My sisters and I attended Crandon Institute for 3 years, and my mother also taught there.
    I remember very clearly having “Miss Frost” as my music teacher.
    A very friendly, kind hearted lady. On behalf of my mother Dorothy Frye, and sisters Elizabeth and Carolyn, I’d like the family to know we remember her fondly from way back then.
    Sincerely, Merrill Frye

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