Obituary of Winfred Johnson
Winfred “Win” Ethelbert Johnson, loving husband and father, organist, choirmaster, composer, and teacher whose career spanned seven decades, passed away peacefully at home after a brief illness on Saturday, May 5, 2018, surrounded by his family. He lived in Middletown, RI for fifty-two years.
Winfred was the husband of Maryanne Shaw Johnson for 57 years until her passing in 2013. He was the son of the late Joseph Reginald Johnson and Ethel Matilda Kern Johnson. He is survived by his daughters; Anne Johnson Crone of Coventry, Connecticut; Caroline Sileo of Greer, South Carolina; and Martha Johnson Larence of Bolton, Massachusetts. Winfred was “Grandpa” to five grandchildren; Brittany Fehskens, Daniel Sileo, Decker Crone, Emily Crone and Grace Larence; and three great-grandchildren. He is survived by his brother, Ronald Johnson of Owensville, Missouri.
Winfred was born January 12, 1930 in Clayton, Missouri. He served in the United States Marine Corps and during his service was a Chaplain’s Assistant. He also held church positions as an organist and choirmaster with Protestant and Catholic Chapels at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Upon his honorable discharge, he attended Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and received his B.A. and M.A in Musicology. He furthered his studies in Music Composition while attending North Texas University and later spent two summers at Harvard University.
He studied organ under the direction of the late English-born organist, composer and teacher, Dr. Alec Wyton, who was organist and choirmaster at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan, New York. Winfred also studied organ with Dr. Ronald Arnatt, while at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri. He was musically mentored by organ music pioneer Dr. Robert T. Anderson, professor and chair of the organ department at Southern Methodist University. He also studied music composition with music composer Dr. Samuel Adler.
Throughout his life, Winfred had an infinite love and passion for music which he pursued personally and professionally. He held many academic positions and was the Head of the Music Department, organist, and choirmaster at the following private schools: St. Mark’s School of Texas, Dallas, Texas; Woodberry Forest School; Woodberry Forest, Virginia; and St. George’s School, Middletown, Rhode Island. He also taught music theory, music history and was choral director in the Middletown Public School System for several years. During his career, he was a member of the American Guild of Organists and The Royal School of Church Music.
Over the course of his career he held organist and choirmaster positions at Christ Church Cathedral, of St. Louis, Missouri; Grace Episcopal Church, Kirkwood, Missouri; The Church of the Holy Cross, Dallas Texas; Emmanuel Church, Newport, Rhode Island; St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Bristol, Rhode Island; Gloria Dei, Providence, Rhode Island; and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He also held interim organist positions at Calvary Methodist Church, of Middletown, Rhode Island, and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Bristol, Rhode Island.
Winfred held other positions which gave musical enrichment to those communities he served. He was Chairman for Liturgical Music of the Diocese of Dallas, Founder and Conductor of the Newport Chamber Orchestra, Conductor of the Swanhurst Chorus of Newport, Music Critic for the Newport Daily News, Conductor of The University Glee Club of Providence, Conductor at the Newport Music Festival, and Conductor of The Newport Symphony By the Sea.
Winfred was an instructor for Salve Regina University’s Circle of Scholars program, conducting seminars of various opera productions for over five years and taught until just a few weeks ago. So steadfast was his devotion to music, that Winfred continued teaching his opera class until the decline of his health.
Calling hours will be from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at the O' Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring Street, Newport. His funeral will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 18, 2018 at Emmanuel Church, 42 Dearborn Street, Newport. A burial will follow at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church churchyard, 324 East Main Road, Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his honor to Redwood Library in Newport.
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