Thomas L. Beckwith (Tom), 66, of Wadsworth, IL, passed away on February 14, 2019 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He was born on July 19, 1952 in Elmhurst, Illinois. Family, teaching, and music were his three greatest joys in life. “Mr. B” was the Director of Bands at Warren Township High School (WTHS) for 30 years, where he built one of the largest and most respected band programs in Illinois. Though the Warren bands were chosen for highly selective performances such as the Midwest International Band & Orchestra Clinic, the National Concert Band Festival, and the Monterey Jazz Festival, Tom’s primary goal was to share the joy of music with his students. He did this by igniting their passion for all things musical and by challenging them to be better musicians – all with enthusiasm and a crazy sense of humor.
After retiring from WTHS, Tom worked part time at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, where he continued to bring his positive and goofy spirit into the classroom. While Tom took great pride in the fact that so many of his students became musicians and music teachers, he was just as proud of those who learned to love music for life, no matter their occupation. His teaching lives on through them all and through the memories of his students who still recite his infectious “Beckwith-isms” to their own students or families.
Tom was also an angler extraordinaire who loved sharing his passion for fishing with his family and friends. He towed his Crestliner boat all over the Midwest to fish various lakes, especially in Wisconsin. He enjoyed time spent with fishing buddies and loved being outside - no matter the weather. He preferred to fish for the elusive Musky rather than any other fish more plentiful and easier to catch. Coming up empty-handed did not diminish his enjoyment one bit, and he would declare, “That’s why they call it fishin’ and not catchin’!” The comradery, with its laughs and stories, was just as important to him as the fishing.
Nothing was more special to Tom than his family. He loved sitting next to his wife Jo to watch their sons perform or conduct on stage. He was incredibly proud that both of his sons continued in music, Andrew following in his footsteps as a high school band director, and Daniel becoming a drummer in Tom’s favorite genre of music - jazz. Over the years, he gave Jo the gift of jazz music, and he loved watching her become an avid fan.
Tom and Jo travelled across the country, most recently to Hawaii to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, where their most memorable activity was a helicopter tour of the islands. Creating things and providing for his family gave Tom the utmost satisfaction. He was the general contractor for two homes built in Wadsworth, including the current home where the Beckwith family has lived in for more than 25 years.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Helen Beckwith, and his brother, Rick Beckwith. He is survived by his loving wife, Jo, and his two sons, Andrew and Daniel, his sister, Sherrill (Keith) Snyder, niece Laura Snyder, and nephew Matt (Simona) Snyder and great niece Mikayla.
Edward Francis Jones (The Music Man, the Maestro, Dr. Jones, Mr. Jones, a legend), age 87, was born in Morrisonville, Illinois and passed away on Monday, October 15, 2019, after a short battle with cancer.
He is survived by his spouse, Rhonda, and children Lynn, Steven, Lea; his stepchildren Lynn and Lana; and seven grandchildren; his brother, Paul Jones and sister, Kate Davis, sister-in-law Nancy Jones, and nieces and nephews.
He proudly served in the United States Army from 1950 to 1953, performing with the Sixth Army Band in San Francisco, California. He was a licensed pilot and enjoyed flying.
Beginning in 1957, Mr. Jones taught instrumental and choral music in the Plainfield school system at all levels, including high school theory and harmony. He served as the division chair person for fine arts at Plainfield High School and was coordinator of fine arts for grades K - 6. After retirement in 1994, Mr. Jones was the band director at Cheney Monge School and Cresthill for seven years. He taught band and general music at Saint Mary Immaculate Parish School in Plainfield and retired in 2006. Prior to coming to Plainfield, Mr. Jones was Graduate Assistant and Assistant Conductor of Bands at Illinois State University where he received both Bachelor of Education and Master of Education degrees (instrumental major, choral minor).
Mr. Jones has had numerous conducting assignments and guest appearances, including summer sessions at the University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois University, and Western Illinois University. He sang with the Donald Armstrong Choral Ensemble, the Joliet Chamber Choir, the New Classic Singers, and currently sang with the Ecclesiastical Choral Society, the Naperville Men’s Glee Club, and the Joliet Junior College Chorale and Chamber Singers.
Ed served as district chair person and secretary - treasurer for the Illinois Grade School Music Association for 35 years, having just retired on June 30, 2019. He was president of the Illinois Music Educators Association from 1971 to 1973 and state chairman of the American School Band Directors Association from 1969 through 1970 and again in 1980 through 1984 and was past president and past treasurer of the Mid America Competing Band Directors Association.
He loved Door County, Wisconsin, and vacationed there every summer for years, enjoying family and friends.
Kenneth Raymond Krejci, age 73--beloved husband, father, grandfather, educator, musician, neighbor, friend, and lifelong Chicago Bears fan--passed away peacefully on November 3, 2019, at Regency Hospital in Macon after an extended illness. Ken was born on May 6, 1946, in Chicago, Illinois to Frank and Irene (Doering) Krejci. He was preceded in death by his parents and is survived by his wife Ann (whom he married on June 28, 1980 in West Salem, Illinois), his son Kyle and daughter-in-law Mindy, his two grandsons Calder and Silas, his brother Ron Krejci (of Lombard, Illinois), his sister Joyce and husband David Doemland (of Westmont, Illinois), and several nephews and nieces.
Ken graduated from Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, Illinois in 1964 and then attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he majored in music education, played trumpet in the university bands, and was a proud member of the Marching Illini. Upon his graduation in 1968, Ken began his 35-year career as a school band director in North Chicago, Illinois. His career took him to Villa Grove Community School District, Champaign Central High School, Arcola Community School District, and back to Villa Grove before his retirement in 2005. Besides teaching, Ken directed the Villa Grove United Methodist Church Choir for 16 years, and was involved with the Villa Grove Community Theater as a musician, actor, and board member. He was a member of the National Association for Music Education, the Illinois Music Educators Association, and Phi Beta Mu, the national honorary band fraternity.
Ken and his wife moved to Macon from Illinois in 2015 to be near their son, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons. During his time in Macon, Ken volunteered hundreds of hours with the band program at First Presbyterian Day School and the Macon Youth Symphony Orchestra. He also developed a taste for Chick-fil-A sandwiches, a passion for UGA football, and a keen interest in Civil War history. His greatest joy, though, was being "Pop" to his two grandsons, playing toy trains and blowing bubbles with them.
Besides his family, Ken's legacy will be the thousands of students that he taught during his career. His passion and ability for instilling an appreciation for music--and in particular, an appreciation for jazz--in his students was unmatched. His deep knowledge of music, authentic compassion, and penchant for lame jokes made him a favorite teacher for many students and a favorite coworker to many teachers and administrators over the years.