Jeré Granville Marcum, 95, Joplin, Missouri, passed away on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at his home.
Jeré was born August 5, 1925, in Cassville, Missouri, son of the late J. Don Marcum and Kathryn Julia (Montgomery) Marcum. He was a descendant of the Marcum family from Kentucky and the Montgomery family from Virginia.
His family moved from the Washburn Prairie area to Joplin, Missouri, when Jeré was 5 years old. Jeré attended elementary school at West Central School and graduated from Joplin High School in 1943.
Jeré served in the United States Navy from 1943 until 1947 aboard the USS Magoffin in the South Pacific. The ship shuttled troops from the U.S. to warzones including Guam and Okinawa. Some of Jeré’s duties included playing the portable organ for church services, being the ship’s Librarian and publishing the ship’s newsletter.
After being honorably discharged from the Navy, Jeré lived with his grandmother in a big Queen Ann Victorian home on 5th and Moffet in Joplin (later his own home for many years). In 1946 he enrolled at Joplin Junior College as a music major. He continued his education at Wesleyan Methodist University in Salina, Kansas. While there, he joined a touring choir that performed across the south.
In 1951 he moved to New York to continue his pursuit of a music education. He attended Fagan’s School of Drama and Radio, which led to a two-year tour with Claire Tree Major’s Children’s Theatre. His first role was with Jimmy Coco in “Ole’ King Cole”.
Jeré then moved to Chicago where he met and married Virginia Steinbeck, with whom he had a daughter, Cody Lee, in 1955. They were divorced in 1957.
After several mundane office jobs, it was soon apparent that Jeré’s true calling was in music. He moved to Kansas City where he studied at the Kansas City Conservatory of Music. While there, he achieved one of the happiest positions he had ever hoped for as Registrar at the conservatory. He also was tenor soloist at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, sang at the Christian Science Church and served as the choir director.
He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in Education from Missouri Southern State University and his master’s degree in music from Pittsburg State University. He was a member of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia of America.
During a seven-year education sabbatical, Jeré had his own music studio in Denver. He played and sang concerts, and gave piano lessons. While there he sang in the tenor section of the community chorus in Beethoven’s ninth symphony directed by Dr. Antonia Brico, one of the first female conductors in the U.S.
Jeré started teaching grade school music in 1969. During his eighteen years of grade school teaching, he taught in practically every grade school in Joplin. He retired for the first time in 1986.
In 1985, Jeré decided that he would learn Spanish and began taking classes at Missouri Southern State College. He also studied German and French, just for fun. In 2002, at 77 years of age, he studied and lived in Chile for five months. In 2004 he earned a bachelor’s degree in foreign language from Missouri Southern State University and went on to teach English as a second language with the International English Program at MSSU. He retired for the second time in 2011.
Jeré was the tenor soloist at the First Church of Christian Science of Joplin for 18 years. He was interested in the metaphysical approach to theology and the experience changed his life. At the time of his death, he was a member of Unity Church of Joplin.
Jeré was always very active in the music community in and around Joplin. He served on the board of Joplin Community Concerts, and contributed to the Missouri Southern International Piano Competition and to Pro-Musica.
Jeré traveled extensively, often with his cousin Gene Hays and good friend Jim Johnson. Destinations included England, France, Germany, Holland, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Greece, Japan, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and most of the South American countries. He traveled to both coasts many times for visits, theater trips and piano competitions.
In Jeré’s later years, he enjoyed movies, stage plays, community concerts, Joplin Little Theater, bridge and the alumni book club at MSSU.
Jeré spent his life learning. His quiet intelligence and quick wit made for many interesting conversations. He was a friend to many and will be greatly missed.
In addition to his parents, Jeré was preceded in death by his brother James M. Marcum who passed away on October 1, 2010.
Survivors include his sister-in-law, Kathleen Marcum of California; niece Lynda Pierce and husband Dave of Wisconsin; nephews Larry Marcum and Lee Marcum both of California; cousins Mary Jo Chandler and Mary Jane King both of Missouri.
Memorial service will be Saturday, April 24, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. at Parker Mortuary Chapel with Rev. Gordan Keyler officiating. Inurnment of his ashes will be at a later date in Forest Park Cemetery, Joplin.
Memorial contributions may be made to Missouri Southern International Piano Competition, Pro-Musica or the charity of the donor’s choice.