John Robert Stalls, 86, died Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 12:05 a.m.
He was born to an unknown father and Rosa Brinegar, Aug. 29, 1927, in High Point, NC. John grew up and graduated from Mills Home, a Baptist orphanage in Thomasville, NC. He was later adopted into the Stalls family in Middletown, OH in his early 20’s. He received two BA degrees from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, received a scholarship to Julliard in New York City and eventually received his Masters in Music Education from Columbia University. He married the late Margaret Findorff Cox in 1968, and for 32 years they lived together in Ohio and California. John passed on Margaret’s actual birthday, January 5th.
John’s passion and career was music. He learned to play in the orphanage and found himself performing as a vocalist at UNC Chapel Hill alongside Andy Griffith. After graduating from Columbia he traveled the country as a musical performer with a Chicago ensemble called “The White Guards”. After his performing days, John continued his musical passion as an award winning high school music teacher, musical play director, and band director at Middletown HS and Hamilton Taft HS in Ohio, and other music teaching assignments in Southern California. He played the organ and directed the choir at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hamilton, and continued to teach and direct various choirs and music groups until he was 81 years old.
John was an active member of many Christian faith communities and Kiwanis. He loved to travel, spoil his dogs, collect hundreds of Dickens Village pieces and take convertible road trips in colorful shirts with his wife Margaret.
John is survived by two children: Cathleen Reeve, of Tampa, FL and David Stalls, of Denver, CO; He also is survived by seven grandchildren (Rebekah, Gabriel, Ken, John, Jessica, Jonathon and Tracy) and two great-grandchildren (Maya and Amani).
A memorial will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, January 18th at Woodside Cemetery (reception hall??) in Middletown, Ohio. His ashes will be interred next to Margaret and other Stalls family members.
“Imagine arriving to an open seat at a community 4th of July celebration. There’s an understanding of red, white and blue and the anticipated song, dance and cheering to praise our country’s birthday. There’s a man in the front who appears to be directing the choir. Just before they start he turns to the audience with such confidence, charisma, poise and light while lifting his arms. His smile is radiant and spreads all the way across his face. Everything in his spirit and body begs for you to let go for a little while. In such a small moment he makes a series of gestures that ask you to set all obligations, thoughts, fears, stresses and hardships aside. His hands go up again as he continues to smile and scan the audience. Everyone stands up. His eye contact holds you and others in what seems like a bubble. It’s safe, relaxing and cheerful. “You’re a grand ole flag, you’re a...,” sing the people. They wave flags and smile confidently with this man. You are still standing but you hesitate to really let go and join in. There he is, turning around again. His eyes meet yours and while one hand is still directing the choir he grabs yours to lift up your flag. He smiles so freely into your eyes and with his lips he begs you to trust him and follow suit. “…you’re a high flying flag and forever peace may wave!” the song continues. You’re in. You are now a part of this community. You are welcome, safe, inspired and lighter inside, maybe lighter than you’ve felt in years.” This is a small snapshot of who my Grandpa John was to hundreds of his students, friends and family. He was always inviting and warm. His entertainment talents were beyond words. You are forever in my heart – teaching, encouraging and shining. Thank you Grandpa, for all that you’ve shown us and me.