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Dr. Wendal S. Jones

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Dr.  Wendal S. Jones Obituary
Dr. Wendal S. Jones

Dr. Wendal S. Jones, 80, passed away April 26th, 2013, at his home in Bellevue, Washington. An influential 20th century American classical music composer, conductor, professional musician, music educator and business leader, Dr. Jones was also a loving and devoted husband to his wife Virginia, father and grandfather. He is survived by his son Greg Jones in Seattle, son Steve Jones and his wife Andrea and their two children in Bellevue, Washington; sister Sally Sulonen in Bainbridge Island, Washington; and nephew Tom Jones and his wife Chrissy in Prescott, Arizona. He was preceded in death by his dear wife Virginia Jones; sister Elinor and brothers Kenneth and Donald Jones. A celebration of his life will be held among colleagues, friends and family on June 15, 2013 at 2pm at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington, the community where he made his home for more than 40 years.

Jones was a multi-faceted renaissance man with many ideas, interests and talents. As a player, conductor, and composer, he loved music and all the great colleagues and friends associated with it. Whether performing from within the heart of the orchestra, on the road guest conducting, hosting after-parties for jazz greats including Ella Fitzgerald or Dizzy Gillespie, or filling his home with family, friends and music, Wendal Jones was always making great things happen around him.

The Eastern Washington University (EWU) Symphony Orchestra played for 14 years under maestro Jones' baton, during which time he conducted over 300 works, including several world premieres, and many fully-staged major productions including the popular La Boheme, Barber of Seville, La Traviata and Gianni Schicchi. Jones also conducted the University of Arizona Symphony, Spokane Junior Symphony, University of Iowa Bands, Olympic College Bands, University of Arizona Wind Ensemble, Eastern Washington University Bands, Eastern Washington University Chorus and Spokane Riverfront Park Concert Band.

In addition to conducting, Dr. Jones both taught and served leadership roles in the music departments at Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington in the late '50s, the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona in the '60s, and EWU in the '70s and '80s, where he was awarded the prestigious University Trustees' Medal of Honor.

As an American composer, Jones wrote numerous compositions for orchestra, band, chorus, solo works and chamber ensembles throughout his career, including Three Fantasies for Horn and Piano, Two Pieces for Flute and Piano, Three Diverse Songs for Tenor and Woodwind Quintet, Woodwind Trio, The Torch is Passed, The Kid's New Bag, Quintet for Winds, Overture for Orchestra, Sonata for Violin and Piano, Stabat Mater, Praise!, and an innovative piece for world drums. Two of his works were commissioned by the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, and Jones was also a freelance conductor and arranger for Capitol Records.

As well as being a conductor, music educator and composer, Jones became a professional musician at the early age of 12, starting with the Dean Bushnell Jazz Orchestra, playing tenor saxophone with the dance band on a regular basis. Jones later was principal bassoonist with the Chicago Little Symphony, the Tucson Symphony, the Flagstaff Festival Orchestra, the Washington Chamber Orchestra, the Seattle Opera, and the Grand Teton Festival. Most recently, he played principal bassoon alongside his wife Virginia (principal clarinet) in the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, for 40 years.

While Jones had exceptionally strong academic roots, he was also a brilliant mechanical engineer and entrepreneur. He revolutionized the manufacturing process for the production of double reeds with processes that he automated with factory machinery that he designed, patented, and built. His company, Jones Double-Reed Products, became the leading supplier of double reeds for oboists and bassoonists worldwide. After retiring at the age of 78, Jones sold his company to music giant DANSR, taking the leading company to the next level in scale and global distribution.

Jones was born in Longmont, Colorado in 1932. His father was a coal miner, his mother a school teacher; hard work and education were important values held by his family and for the rest of his life, and he both helped and inspired those around him to excel and value education. After receiving his Bachelor degree at the University of Northern Colorado and while earning his M.A. there studying with the esteemed bassoonist Dr. William Gower, he met his wife Virginia, and served with the 392nd Army Band at Fort Lee, Virginia from 1954-1956 as a composer and arranger. Jones went on to earn his PhD in music composition at the University of Iowa.

A philanthropist throughout his life, Jones and his wife Virginia gave nearly a half million dollars back to the communities that supported them, including the academic institutions where he studied, the professional groups with which he performed, national causes such as the American Lung Society, and local causes such as Women Helping Women, the Union Gospel Mission of Spokane, and Spokane public radio station KPBX. Jones also established several scholarship funds throughout his career including the Eastern Washington Friends of Music Trust, funding opportunities for those following him in the music field.

Wendal Jones gave more to the community than he took, several times over. He will be missed by colleagues, friends and family, and fondly remembered for all the ways he enriched their lives.

Sign Jones' on-line

Guest Book at www.Legacy.com.
Published in The Seattle Times from May 18 to May 19, 2013
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