Patricia John Keightley died on September 27, 2012 at The Summit at Lakeway, outside Austin, Texas, where she had resided for four years.|
Patricia was born in Canton, Illinois on July 16, 1916. Her mother was early Houston artist Grace Spaulding John and her father was Alfred Morgan John, great-great-grandson of General Sam Houston. In 1921, Patricia came to live in Houston, where she attended Albert Sidney Johnston Junior High School and San Jacinto High School. She became interested in music and studied the harp with Annie Louise David in San Francisco, California; Kathryn Julyé at Mills College, California; and master harpist Carlos Salzedo at the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia. In 1941, she graduated from Rice Institute (now Rice University) with a B.A. in English.
Under her professional name, Patricia John had a distinguished career concertizing, teaching, and composing music for the harp. Although primarily a solo performer, she was Principal Harpist for the Springfield, Illinois, Civic Orchestra, 1947-8; Galveston, Texas, Civic Symphony, 1952-4; and Associate Harpist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra in 1955-6, where she played under the baton of Leopold Stokowski, Howard Hanson, and Villa Lobos. She gave concerts in venues as diverse as the inaugural ball of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, as well as at innumerable harp congresses. She founded the Houston Chapter and San Jacinto Chapter of the American Harp Society and served as President of the San Jacinto Chapter. She also served the American Harp Society as Editor and public relations director for the city of New York.
In addition to 26 compositions for the harp, Patricia John published two books on noted 19th century French harpist R.N.C. Bochsa; translations from the French of works by Bochsa; a translation from the French of a biography of Jean Baptiste Krumpholtz, another French harpist of the 19th century; and 34 articles for a variety of harp journals. She also created oil paintings, etchings, charcoal drawings and watercolors.
In 1957, she married Frank Geoffrey Keightley of Royal Dutch Shell Oil. Traveling extensively, they lived in such diverse places as the West Indies, South America, Indonesia and New York City. For much of her life, her home was in Houston.
She is survived by her daughters Patricia Spaulding Keightley of Little Rock, Arkansas and Pamela Sturtevant Keightley of Austin, Texas; her grandchildren Katherine Nell Bolding, Frank Milton Bolding, and Andrea Elisabeth Hughes; and her great-grandson Adrian Antares Hughes; and by her brother John Spaulding John and his children and grandchildren.
A private memorial service will be held at a later date.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Dec. 2, 2012