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Published: Sunday, 7/6/2014

College retiree presents musical farewell

Powell. Powell.
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Retirements are celebrated in several ways, but few are more impressive or meaningful than Carolyn Jones’ farewell to Adrian College last week.

There was the usual cake and punch. And, of course, college president Jeffrey Docking and Jim Mahony, vice president for development, and other faculty members gathered to congratulate Ms. Jones on her 32 years of dedication to the college.

The retiring development director of research and constituent management was toasted as a campus star and praised for her capabilities, humility, and passion for the college.

But, it was the prelude to the event that really touched the hearts of the guests — the recital Ms. Jones presented on the grand piano in Dawson Auditorium. She performed three compositions she obviously had practiced long and well every night in her Toledo condo.

She explained that she wanted to give the recital as a farewell to the college that has been so much a part of her life and also as a tribute to the late Myrla Fox, a noted piano teacher in Adrian who also was on the college faculty.

The lessons that Ms. Jones imparted to the 50 guests in her recital audience were that music is a sure tonic for stress relief, and that practice and more practice is essential to achieve her level of keyboard prowess.

For the 70-year-old retiree, the recital was a reminder of her first recital in Downs Hall at the college, as a new, 7-year-old pupil of Ms. Fox.

Carolyn Jones at the keyboard. Carolyn Jones at the keyboard.

Ms. Fox emphasized practice to a degree that pupils kept a log of their practice time to show her at each lesson.

Ms. Jones also thanked her late mother for making sure she practiced.

“My mother made me practice and probably wouldn’t let me quit,” she said. “So many children take piano or instrument lessons but quit. Then, as adults, they are sorry or blame their parents that they let them quit.

“At some point, I believe if you stick with it, you begin to actually enjoy it and can play any sheet music, which I used to do, a la riding a bike.

“I am grateful for those lessons as a child. It was a gift that I have enjoyed into adulthood.”

Ms. Jones retained her interest in piano lessons and practice values during her tenure at the college by taking a few lessons from Wilnella Bush and Valrie Kantorski, former faculty members. Her practice ritual was every night at home and sometimes on her lunch hour at the college.

The three selections for the retirement recital were chosen from her more recent lessons. They are Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C Minor, Op. No. 2; Debussy’s Arabesque, No. 1, and Beethoven’s Pathetique, Op.13, 1st movement.

Friends of Ms. Jones are assured her interests in travel, photography, history, her Devils Lake home, and her cats will keep her content and busy in retirement years. They know that the piano also will play a big role.

“I still play almost every day. I just like to play; maybe when I take a break while cleaning and always when I feel down,” she said.

Playing the piano was also a source of comfort and encouragement during Ms. Jones’ recent three-year bout with cancer treatments.

She suggests that seniors, even men and women in advanced years, consider taking lessons.

“All it takes is learning the basics and help from an instructor. Plus, lots of practice. Seniors have time for it.”

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at: mpowell@theblade.com

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