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John Southard  

John Southard

August 20, 1945 – January 12, 2017

John Southard, age 71, of Newark, DE, passed away on Thursday, January 12, 2017.

A native Delawarean, John was born in Wilmington on August 20, 1945, and was the son of the late Ward A. and Martha (Brugger) Southard. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware. John made his career as a musician and was Delaware’s “Piano Man.” He possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of music and performed in numerous jazz, pop and classical ensembles. John was best known for his piano performing and teaching and was beloved by his many students.

He was a member of the Delaware State Music Teachers Association. John created the Jazz Improvisation Program at the University of Delaware and taught there for many years. He also arranged and produced many original pieces for other artists including his beloved wife, Lois Young.

He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Lois R. Young; step-children, Amy Goldberg of Potsdam, NY and Matt Young of Philadelphia, PA; and siblings, Robert K. Southard (Linda) of Indian Trail, NC and Susan Cyphers (Arthur) of Colorado Springs, CO.

A memorial service will be held at 2 pm on Sunday afternoon, February 12, 2017 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark, 420 Willa Rd, Newark, DE. Interment will be held privately.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Padme Samye Ling, 618 Buddha Highway, Sidney Center, NY 13839.

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  1. Jan Owens, January 20, 2017

    Such a gentle and generous soul, and an exquisite piano man. I lived in Silverbrook and remember his mother, Marty Southard telling me how he just took to the piano, that was long before I heard him and then for a short time took lessons from him. But the main thrill was listening to him play so elegantly and eloquently. He will be missed.

  2. Linda (Downward) Darling, January 20, 2017

    Lois, I am so sorry to hear of John’s passing. My prayers and thoughts for love and support will be coming your way. Sorry I cannot be there to support you as my husband is having surgery today and I will be taking care of him on Sunday.

    God bless you and your family.

  3. Barry Brader, January 20, 2017

    We played music together at Newark High. When he played at Columbus Inn he always took time to talk with friends. A supreme pianist who will be greatly missed.

  4. Eugene Pratt, January 22, 2017

    I knew John from my days at the University of Delaware. We played in the same dance band “The Middletones” from 1964-1967. He was a fantastic musician and great friend. Saw him a few times at the Columbus Inn in Wilmington where he was an institution. Peace be with you.

  5. Rustey Clausen Meyer, January 23, 2017

    John was a thoughtful, gentle man but could tackle music with great appreciation, especially the piano. I met John in Newark High School and we had many mutual friends. R.I.P., John.

  6. Ray Honaker, January 24, 2017

    John was one of the first guys that I met when I moved to Newark at the age of nine. He was a year ahead of me at school so he must have been ten. I met him at a party and he was playing the piano, amazingly. We went throughout school together and met again a few times at parties in Newark (I live in Colorado) when we were in our 60’s. Everyone knows that he was an incredible musician. But more importantly, he was a very, very fine man. I never met anyone as gentlemanly. RIP, John.

  7. Bob Emery, January 26, 2017

    I came to John late in our lives as a barely – competent piano student although I knew of John thru the Newark music scene since the 60’s. What a tremendous source of knowledge. His approach to teaching was to teach “whatever you want to learn”. He once had a student who wanted to learn a Black Sabbath tune. John was one of the first “Rockers”. He told me he was inspired by Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles. He played with many talented musicians including ,of all people, Myron Floren (accordion) of Lawrence Welk fame! As a piano “hacker” I’m always in awe of those who can play anything. John could play it all. Jazz-influenced, he never played a major chord when a ninth or something else was always much better. John was a fine and patient teacher who, not only knowledgeable, experienced, and talented, had a true sensibility for music and all the arts. I’ll miss my kind, gentle and spiritual friend. I wonder what reincarnation he’ll assume? Surely on a higher plane.


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