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Melba Sands WILLIAMSON

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Melba Sands WILLIAMSON Obituary
Musician, Educator, Arranger, Radio and Television Actress, Producer and Writer, Beloved Wife, Mother and Grandmother Melba Sands Williamson passed away peacefully on Jan. 29, 2014. The heart of her family, St. Paul neighborhood and the community of people she blessed with her talents and enthusiasm, she will be remembered with love and joy. Melba is survived by her husband, four children and their families, five grandchildren, two granddogs and cherished friends, neighbors and students. Melba was born in Alvarado, Minnesota and graduated from Warren (MN) High School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN and remained a few years after graduation to work for WCAL Radio, teach ear training at St. Olaf and continue singing in the St. Olaf Choir. Her educational pursuits then continued with coursework at Bemidji State Teacher's College, the University of Iowa, and a Master of Arts degree in education from the University of Minnesota. Melba worked for David Advertising in St. Paul, writing, producing and performing live radio and television commercials for clients such as Peter's Meats and Applebaum's Food Markets. She was a radio personality for several stations in the Twin Cities market. One of her cherished memories was writing, producing and starring in a daily children's program, "The Story Lady" on WMIN. She spent decades working as a church musician (organist, adult and children's choir director), serving Como Park Lutheran (St. Paul, MN), United Lutheran (Oak Park, IL), Bethlehem Lutheran (Minneapolis, MN), Immanuel Lutheran (St. Paul, MN), Central Lutheran (Minneapolis, MN), Gloria Dei Lutheran (St. Paul, MN), and Epworth United Methodist (St. Paul, MN). Melba also conducted the Central Chorale, an ensemble based out of Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. As an educator, she substitute-taught many years in the Roseville (MN) Public School system, and a bit for the St. Paul Public Schools. She gave private piano and voice lessons, dedicated to teaching young people to read music, sing, play, and simply enjoy the gift of music. She enjoyed creating arrangements for choral and instrumental groups. Never retired, there was always a musical project on her mind, whether it was preparation for a performance, writing, researching, or dreaming up ways to engage others in the joy of music. An accomplished vocalist, pianist and clarinetist, Melba sang with a big band on WCCO Radio, and performed live as a solo artist in venues such as Act II (Hudson, WI), the Landmark Center and O'Gara's Bar and Grill. As an actress, she was represented by Voice Plus and featured in many television commercials, on billboards, bus ads, and made personal appearances throughout the country as Etta Freschetta for Freschetta Pizza. She also enjoyed performing as Mrs. Claus in the downtown Minneapolis Christmas parade and at the Landmark Center. She was a sports enthusiast, with golf being her first love, followed closely by football and baseball. Melba possessed a green thumb and enjoyed gardening, indoors and out. Any plant in her care could thrive. She loved spending time with her family, close and extended, and her wonderful friends at St. Paul Corner Drug. And though we try, no one can quite make Swiss steak like Melba. She was one-of-a kind, a treasure. She is with us always in everything she taught and inspired. Celebration of Life Service: Monday, Feb. 10th, 11:00am at PILGRIM LUTHERAN CHURCH, 1935 St. Clair Ave, St. Paul. Interment: ACACIA PARK CEMETERY. Visitation: Sunday, Feb. 9th, 1-4pm BRADSHAW, 678 South Snelling at Eleanor, St. Paul, and also, one hour prior to the service at church. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Melba Sands Williamson's name to: The Minnesota Bach Ensemble, PO Box 40036, St. Paul, MN 55104 or Stetson University School of Music, 421 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand, FL 32723.
Published in Pioneer Press from Feb. 2 to Feb. 5, 2014
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