Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Joseph Chidley III, 1926-2011: Music teacher led choirs in school, church

CLYDE, Ohio -- Joseph Chidley III, whose work, play, and retirement were infused with music as a school and church choir director and a musician in local bands, died Tuesday in T.J. Samson Community Hospital, Glasgow, Ky., from complications of a stroke. He was 85.

He had a stroke June 17 in a motel where he and his wife, Davey, spent the night en route to the wedding of their grandson, Kristopher Kuss.

He was a teacher and the choir director for 25 years at Clyde High School, retiring in 1979. He was choir director of First United Methodist Church, Clyde, for 38 years and, the last seven years, was director of the hand bell choir.

"He was directing the hand bell choir at church two weeks ago," his daughter Carole said. "He loved all kinds and all expressions of music."

He played saxophone for years in the North Coast Concert Band and the North Coast Big Band. Most recently, he played in the ensemble Singin', Swingin' Saxes, for which he wrote arrangements.

Before switching to sax, he played clarinet in the band at Kent State University, from which he graduated in 1950. His first teaching job was in Millersburg, Ohio. He taught instrumental music for grades 1-12 and met with every elementary class twice a week. He led the junior high choir and band and high school vocal ensembles and swing choir and taught music theory besides.

"[Teachers] had to learn every instrument back then, and you gave lessons after school," his wife said.

Vocal music was his domain for most of his tenure at Clyde High School, although he was assistant band director for a short time after he arrived. His three daughters sang in his choirs. Daughter Sue was her choir's pianist.

"As an adult, I appreciate how much he taught us when we were in high school," daughter Carole said. "He taught music in high school that we would probably learn in college, exposing us to gospel music, opera music, all kinds of music. He taught us diction, music appreciation, all the facets of the music, very effortlessly. It was amazing."

Mr. Chidley's choirs, often 80 or 90 student-voices strong, had "very much of a full, blended sound," daughter Carole said. "The diction was incredible. The dynamics were there. It wasn't just singing a bunch of words. Musicianship -- that's what he taught."

He also led freshman and sophomore choruses, the junior and senior a capella choirs, and a glee-club sized group, the Teen Tuners, who incorporated choreography in their shows.

His groups competed regularly in contests, and he encouraged students to compete as soloists too.

At school concerts, he sang baritone in teachers' quartets -- the Hickory Sticks and its successor, Four Decades.

He was a former member of the Green Springs, Ohio, Community Band, and he led an employee choir called Voices of Whirlpool.

Two of his activities were not music related. In retirement, he served about seven years on the Clyde-Green Springs Board of Education. He also worked for several years as a loan officer at Croghan Colonial Bank and Clyde Savings Bank.

"Helping people. That was his thing," his wife said. "You helped kids learn to sing and then, at the bank, you're trying to help people too, in financial trouble."

He was a strongly opinionated person, but not negative, his wife said.

"He talked to anybody all the time, but he was very open minded. He listened to people. He liked people," his wife said.

He volunteered at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center and Fremont Memorial Hospital.

He was born April 16, 1926, to Florence and Joseph Chidley. He was a 1944 graduate of Euclid, Ohio, High School. A Navy veteran of World War II, he was a radioman on troop and cargo transport vessels in the Pacific.

Surviving are his wife, the former Marian "Davey" Davis, whom he married May 4, 1951 in Millersburg; daughters, Carole Chidley, the Rev. Sue Chidley, and Charlotte Kuss; brother, Ralph Chidley, and two grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 3-7 p.m. Friday in the Mitchell-Auxter Funeral Home, Clyde. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in First United Methodist Church, Clyde.

The family suggests tributes to the church or a charity of the donor's choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.

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