Jane Stewart

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2002

Jane Stewart, a resident of Juneau since 1946, died at the Juneau Pioneers' Home on Aug. 9, 2002.

She was born in Tulsa, Okla., on May 11, 1920, to Luella (Hocker) and Claude R. Snyder. Two younger brothers predeceased her. In her life in Juneau she was recognized by many as "Madame Music" for more than 40 years, her family said, and led innumerable musical programs until illness ended her professional work in the late 1980s.

She graduated from the University of Tulsa in the early 1940s, majoring in cello and piano studies. As a child she had won statewide piano competitions. She accompanied choruses and toured with a prominent concert violinist.

She arrived in Juneau in 1945 and began helping to organize the Alaska Music Trail Series. She conducted choirs at the Methodist Church, mass choruses for special occasions, and launched Juneau Singers with two or three performances annually to 1956. She was a charter member of the Juneau-Douglas Little Theater and its first secretary.

In the early 1960s, the family lived in Anchorage, where she was the first paid executive for the Alaska Festival of Music. She initiated the idea for a Native arts festival, played in the Anchorage Symphony, and owned and operated the Anchor Book Shop.

During the 1970s she became a member of the first Juneau Arts Council and was appointed by two governors to the State Arts Council.

She conducted the Juneau Symphony and was producer-director for the Juneau Lyric Opera for numerous performances.

She was on the committee for the restoration of the theater organ now in the State Office Building. In 1976 she organized and directed the Alaska Show at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., celebrating the national bicentennial. She was instrumental, with Linda Rosenthal and Mary Klughertz, in launching Juneau Jazz and Classics.

She is survived by her husband, Thomas B. Stewart, retired Juneau judge, and by six children, Rebecca Stewart (and William Stewart) of Eugene, Ore., Donna Stewart of Mill Valley, Calif., Elizabeth Hendricks of Reno, Nev., Stephen J. Stewart (and Ann Stewart) of Anchorage, Mary Stewart Etheridge of Douglas, and Caleb E. Stewart of Juneau. The youngest son, Thomas W. Stewart, died in 1986. Five adult grandchildren survive her.

There will be a public celebration of her life and accomplishments on Oct. 18 at Centennial Hall. Donations may be made to the Juneau Symphony, the Juneau Lyric Opera, Juneau Jazz and Classics, or any charity of choice.

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