Sunday, February 01, 2015

Obituaries - write your own.

Colleen McCullough died last week. 
Here's an excerpt from her obit in the Australian: 
"COLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best-selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth. In one interview, she said: “I’ve never been into clothes or figure and the interesting thing is I never had any trouble attracting men.”
Can you believe it? "Certainly overweight." This is what they chose to say about the woman who wrote the best-selling book of all time in Australia??
Several bloggers compared the obituary, in the same publication, of that of another well-loved, best-selling Australian novelist, Bryce Courtenay.
BRYCE Courtenay was one of Australia’s greatest storytellers, touching the hearts of millions of people around the world with 21 bestselling books including The Power of One.
Yeah...but how much did he weigh? Was he into clothes?

The Australian has gotten a lot of negative commentary about this totally sexist and insensitive treatment of Colleen. Hopefully the writers at that paper won't make such a botch-up of the next famous deceased woman's obit.

I heard from my friend Linda that our high school music teacher, the much beloved and admired Glen Pierce died last week at 103 years old. His former students will never forget him as he opened our eyes to the joys of music through choral singing. He wrung things out of us we had no idea were there. He'd get 300 singers absolutely rapt; single purposed - all pulling together as one voice to create the most beautiful sounds. When we got it right - those magical moments when we soared - he would be so pleased and we all loved that and strived for it. How did he manage to get a motley bunch of mostly self-centered, self-conscious teenagers, who at that age didn't even know they could sing, to work so hard and accomplish so much?? In our high school the coolest thing you could do was to sing in one of his choirs. 

Here's his obit which I found appropriately loving and respectful.
Thank you Mr. Pierce for everything you did.  Rest in peace.


GLEN WALLACE PIERCE May 3, 1911 - January 26, 2015 It is with sadness that we announce the peaceful passing of Glen Wallace Pierce at St. Boniface Hospital on January 26, 2015 at the age of 103. He leaves to mourn his wife of 72 years, Margaret (Daisy); children Maureen McNaught (Quinton), Rosalind Bezanson (Barry), Garvin Pierce (Elvy), and Stewart Pierce (Valerie); grandchildren Ian, Ryan, Sarah, Tamara, Cameron, Meghan, Braden, Matthew, Jamie and Andrew; great-grandchildren Callan, Kaitlin, Madison, Taven, Erik, Hannah, Ethan and Ella; his brother-in-law Andrew Karsgaard, sister-in-law Jean Pierce, and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents William Wallace and Edith Ella Pierce, and his siblings Lloyd Pierce, Olive Karsgaard and Irma Boulter. 
Born in Winnipeg (at home on Toronto Street next door to his lifelong friend Mitchell Sharp), Glen attended Laura Secord and Kelvin Schools where he excelled in music, track and field, and academically. As he reached university during the Depression various scholarships and teaching private piano lessons helped finance his education, as did a car-pool which included Marshall McLuhan. Glen often spoke of the lively discussions that ensued as they drove out to the "new" campus in Fort Garry. He graduated in 1933 Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. honours degree in Classics and went on to the Faculty of Education. Before embarking on a career of school teaching, he decided to explore the possibilities of becoming a concert pianist. On the advice of his teacher, Leonard Heaton, he studied at the Royal College of Music in London, England with teachers Harold Craxton and Arthur Benjamin. The Second World War interrupted his studies and he was advised to return to Canada immediately. Further studies were resumed after the war when he went to New York to study advanced conducting and opera at Julliard with Fritz Mahler, and choral conducting with Peter Wilhousky. It was there that he met Jan Peerce and became interested in both operatic and cantorial repertoire. (Glen was later to coach cantors, rabbis and bar mitzvah students.) 
He also learned to play instruments in the various sections of the orchestra so that he could better serve as a conductor. He began his teaching career in Winnipeg 1 School Division as a substitute teacher. It was at Lord Selkirk School that he was to meet the love of his life, Daisy, who became his constant support in all his future endeavours. In addition to his public school teaching Glen maintained his ever-increasing private music pupils. While at Hugh John McDonald School teaching English he was approached by the principal to take over for the music teacher who had become ill. And as they say, the rest is history. 
He especially enjoyed teaching the junior high boys and moved up with them to Daniel McIntyre School where he continued until he was appointed supervisor of music. He retired in 1975. In addition to teaching, he took on conducting and touring with the Manitoba Schools Orchestra, the University Symphony, and the Glee Club, but his greatest joy soon became working with high school students. Often his choirs numbered more than 350 students. He imbued in many of them a love of Gilbert and Sullivan and great choral repertoire. His festival choirs won trophies at the local level, as well as, on several occasions, the George Matheson trophy for the best choir in Canada. The recordings that he produced were played by Max Ferguson on his CBC Rawhide Show. Always ahead of his time Glen chartered an airplane and took members of his "Schola Cantorum" to Britain to perform at the International Eisteddfod in Wales. 
It was Glen's belief that music was a universal language that could bring people together and lift their spirits in profound and meaningful ways. When the festival was over he took his students to London to experience the theatre, especially Shakespeare and nightly pops concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. Lifetime memories were made and out of this evolved the Daniel McIntyre alumni choir. Glen was a Board member and choir director at the Peace Gardens International Music Camp, taking his choir on a European tour that culminated in singing at the Vatican. Again a special bond formed with these singers. 
To his very last days Glen was visited by his students who still wished to reminisce. He shared freely his musical talents and his ideas on a healthy lifestyle that would promote longevity. In his busy life Dad's greatest refuge was his beloved Gull Lake. He spent weekends and summers there starting in the 1920s. He enjoyed swimming, sailing, cycling and volleyball and it was in this special place that he had time to enjoy watching his family grow. Even here music played a role. He had a grand piano in the cottage to limber up his fingers for playing the hymns at the little gospel hall. A devout Christian, he never missed a Sunday service and only retired from playing after his 100th birthday. 
Dad's deep Christian faith was reflected in every corner of his life. During the rest of the year he was a faithful member of Bethesda Church where he frequently played for Sunday night singsongs or Christmas caroling. The last time he played for his church friends was at Christmas 2014. By then suffering from macular degeneration he played all carols requested without music. Dad's greatest joy in retirement was his grandchildren. He took them on daily nature walks and encouraged them to talk about their schooling and future plans. He cajoled them into singing around the piano, as he dreamed of having a male quartet for Sunday services. It was his delight to hear about the career paths they had chosen, to attend their weddings, and to celebrate yet another generation. In his retirement years Dad spent his winters in Clearwater, Florida where he and Daisy soon engaged in an extremely active social life with a very special circle of friends. It was only last year that Daisy and Glen were unable to travel south on their own. 
Glen had a wonderful life and will be greatly missed by all whose lives he touched. "Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world." Martin Luther We would like to extend our gratitude to all those at St. Boniface Hospital who provided excellent care for our father/grandfather in his last days. A memorial service will be held at Elim Chapel on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Providence University College, Union Gospel Mission or a charity of your choice.
Publish Date: Jan 31, 2015

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I thought that was an absurd comment about Colleen to make in her obit. I mean, really.