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James W. Chapman

January 9, 2012

James W. Chapman, Sr. of Holland, VT passed away on December 24, 2011. He was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1937.
Passionate and loving, he was the band director and music teacher at North Country Union High School for 17 years. He retired in March 2011 due to a massive stroke in August 2010, from which he had recovered quite well. In addition to teaching, his local activities included directing the Newport Community Band. During those years, he was the founder and conductor of the International Wind Symphony, which evolved into a solid entity in the community.
He served in the Air Force and played in the Military Band. Returning to Vermont (he graduated from high school in Windsor), was the highpoint of Chapman’s teaching career as he considered preparing young students for future success vital.
Early in his career, Dr. Chapman taught at Missouri Southern State College and was a visiting professor at other institutions. He held positions as professor and Chairman of the Performing Arts Division of Alfred University in New York for about 13 years. During that time, he raised the Division to an impressive level, hiring noted artists to teach and perform.
While at Alfred University, he enhanced the function of the beloved old carillon and initiated the rebuilding of it to great success. It resulted in becoming a desirable venue for visiting carillonneurs of international renown.
Singlehandedly, he designed and constructed a memorial park at the site and personally maintained it. That chapter of his life reflects the verve, determination and success of his endeavors, as did the chapters that followed.
Chapman was the founder, director and conductor of the Juilliard Summer Chamber Music Institute, which he placed in residence at Alfred University for several years. At that time, he employed an acclaimed New York concert pianist, Pina Antonelli, whom he later married, and who survives him.
During his married life with Pina, he hosted a Sunday afternoon radio program in New York for several years, presenting Big Band music exclusively, especially that of Glenn Miller. He was regarded as an authority on the subject, giving lectures including one for the University of Vermont Osher Series. Also during that time, he wrote a weekly newspaper column, “Bravo,” for The Evening Tribune of New York reporting local events and visiting celebrities, another outlet for his vast knowledge.
Dr. Chapman held membership in many musical societies and served in administrative capacities as well. His educational background was broad and diverse, which resulted in a unique approach to teaching, garnering excellent results. He held a Masters Degree in Music History from the University of New Hampshire, completed his Doctoral studies in Psychology of Teaching Young Children at Temple University and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Musicology from Alfred University.
His students at North Country assembled many of his classroom axioms and quips into booklet form for posterity and amusement, revealing a charming sense of humor. The students even had T-shirts emblazoned with “knowing things is good,” one of his favorite expressions. Dr. Chapman was truly loved and appreciated by them, receiving visits and letters of thanks from former students. They attributed much of their success to his love of teaching the “whole person” as was evidenced by their seeking his advice on academic and personal problems.
While working toward his advanced degrees, he married Lorena Titcomb of Maine who survives him. Both received their B.S. in Music Education from the University of Maine. They were married for 18 years and had three children. Their son, James W. Chapman, Jr. of Florida, died suddenly in October 2011, leaving a wife, Angela, their daughter and son. Dr. Chapman is survived by his daughters: Lois Olds Crandell and husband Christopher and their son of Ohio; Rebecca Chapman Cole and her son and daughter, and Rebecca’s companion Mike Wilson of Texas.
Dr. Chapman’s parents were Stuart and Lois (Olds) Chapman who predeceased him. He is survived by two brothers: John and wife Margaret of Maine, and Joel and wife Ngam of California and Thailand; a sister Sarah Eastman and her most recently deceased husband Conrad of Maine, several nieces and nephews and five grandchildren.
James leaves his adoring wife of 27 years, Pina, with whom he shared musical performance and a life of inspiration and beauty. His beloved children, grandchildren, students, friends and colleagues will feel the loss of a “Renaissance Man” but will remember and delight in what he left behind.
A memorial service with musical tribute to Dr. Chapman is being planned for March 2012. Should friends desire, contributions in his memory may be made to the North Country Union High School Band Fund for a music scholarship to be established in his name.

 

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