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Ardean Watts


1928 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Ardean Watts Obituary
1928 ~ 2017
Oh My! What an extraordinary life! Ardean Walton Watts, husband of Elna Elaine Brown, father to Mark, Marty, Mitzi (Busath), Merrill, Milton, Melanie (Robbins), Margo (Robins,) and Miriam (Stokes), grandfather of 37, great grandfather of 28, mentor, friend, and humanitarian, passed away at the age of 89 on July 21, 2017 from complications following surgery. He was a devoted husband, father and brother; putting family first to the very end.
Ardean was born in Kanosh, Utah June 8, 1928, and grew up in Idaho Falls. He served a mission for the LDS church in the New England States Mission before beginning his studies at Brigham Young University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. Ardean and Elna married in 1951. He studied piano at the Academy of Music in Vienna, Austria and received his Master of Arts degree at the University of Utah. One of his first jobs was directing his own Jazz band that performed regularly at Saltair.
In 1956 Maurice Abravanel, who became his life long mentor, hired him as the pianist for the Utah Symphony. Ardean was later appointed as associate conductor of the symphony until 1979. In addition, he was Professor of Music at the University of Utah and founder of the University of Utah Opera Company, which later became the Utah Opera Company. He also served as the musical director for Ballet West, Pioneer Memorial Theater and chair of the Ballet Department at the University. He has been a member of the Rotary Club, founded the Utah Mushroom Society and was appointed chairman of the Utah Arts Council in 1993. Ardean was thirsty for knowledge.
Ardean truly left the world a better place through his vitality and the energy he generated in whatever cause he was involved. He constantly asked questions and challenged all to look closer and consider new angles, possibilities and horizons. He continually expanded his mind and inspired everyone around him with his zeal, fascination, and love for the magic of the universe. His passion helped many dig deeper into their souls and find the music within them. He nurtured people and all living things. No one left his presence unaffected, and most left changed for the better. He had the gift of making the ordinary truly extraordinary.
A celebration honoring Ardean Watts will be held on Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm in Libby Gardner Hall on the University of Utah campus. We invite you to bring your own copy of the Hallelujah Chorus and join in the singing and the celebration. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to Nature Conservancy.
Published in Salt Lake Tribune from July 28 to Aug. 13, 2017
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