Jon Seymour Nicholson, age 85, a Winchendon resident for 25 years, died at Heywood Hospital in Gardner on Thursday, October 8, from complications related to congestive heart failure.
He was born on April 19, 1930 in Syracuse, New York, son of George B. and Emma (Seymour) Nicholson. Jon was a young prodigy on the trombone who began playing professionally at the age of 15, in ensembles including the Italian Colonial Band and the Syracuse Military Band. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1951 with a degree in Music Education, and married Kathryn ("Kay") Snyder of Syracuse that summer. He continued his studies at the Ithaca Conservatory under conductor Walter Beeler and arranger Alfred Reed, and later at Eastman School of Music under conductor Frederick Fennel and trombonist Emory Rennington. Jon received his M.A. and Ed.D degrees in Music Education at the University of Michigan as a scholarship student under William D. Revelli.
In the 1950s he developed the Springfield, Vermont school district band and orchestra program to preeminence in the state, while teaching music at all grade levels. During the 1960s, he served as Director of Music and Bands at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, where his band was awarded “Finest Catholic College Band in the US” in 1967 by the National Catholic Band Directors Association. In the 1970s he served as Music Director with the Belmont, Massachusetts Public Schools, where his music program was voted “Best in New England” by the Harvard Music Survey Committee. During that time, Jon founded the Massachusetts Instrumental Conductors Association (MICA) Contest which still thrives today. Before retiring, Jon served as Director of Music for the Acton-Boxborough Regional School District and taught music history courses for the University of Rhode Island.
After his retirement, Jon conducted the Townsend Military Band for over twenty years, through the 2014 season. In summer of 2015 he launched Winchendon Winds, a band composed of more than forty professional musicians which played Sunday afternoon concerts at the Clark Memorial YMCA. He continued to play trombone and baritone with several community bands in the area and remained an active member of the Musicians' Union.
During his years in Winchendon, Jon served on the Governing Board and as choir director for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Winchendon, was a Trustee of the Beals Memorial Library, and was an active member of the Lake Monomonac Association.
A fervent New England Patriots football fan, Jon also enjoyed traveling to visit relatives, playing bridge, and attending ballet, symphonies and the opera. He and his wife Kay designed and built their home on Lake Monomonac. He was devoted to his cat, Charlie, whom he rescued from a shelter.
He is survived by his daughters, Inanna Arthen of Pepperell, MA and Jill Nicholson Sackett and her husband Joseph Sackett, Jr., of Libertyville, IL; two grandchildren, Joseph Sackett III and Kathryn ("Katie") Daile Sackett; his brother George Bissell Nicholson and his wife Joyce Nicholson of Sun City Center, FL; his sister Nancy Nicholson Mathewson and her husband James Mathewson of Punta Gorda, FL; his sister-in-law, June Snyder; and numerous nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. He was predeceased by his sister Mildred Nicholson Herbig, and his wife of 55 years, Kay Nicholson, who died in 2006.
Jon will be buried next to his wife, Kay at the Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge, NH in a private interment ceremony. His daughters are planning a musical Celebration of Life tribute which will be held in Spring, 2016. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Charity Music
(http://charitymusic.org/) or A Better Tomorrow cat shelter in Winchendon (http://shelterforcats.org/).