Paul Rogers Jenkins, Jr., lovingly known as “PJ” was born on June 1, 1929 in Rock Hill, SC and left us too suddenly on August 12, 2015 in Oklahoma City, OK. He lived his life with passion – whether playing a tennis or volleyball match, constructively criticizing his organ students, sailing on his beloved sailboat, traveling the world, his quest for the perfect martini, strategizing his next bridge hand, giving advice, even expressing his political views.
PJ didn’t make acquaintances; he made friends, and lifelong ones at that. He was exceptional at keeping in touch and maintaining meaningful relationships. Paul was married for 63 years to the love of his life, Janice – their relationship a testament to the strength of love and perseverance.
Paul started playing the organ as a senior in high school and excelled such that the very next year he chose to major in organ performance at Davidson University in North Carolina where he received his Bachelor of Music degree and studied under Robert Noehren.
He continued his studies with Noehren, earning a Master of Music in 1952 from the University of Michigan (where he met Janice). He became a world renowned organist, performing in the U.S., Canada, and throughout Europe. Paul was the organist at Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC from 1952-1954 and then began his storied career in teaching, taking a position as Professor of Organ at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY from 1954-1956.
In the fall of 1956, Paul and Janice moved to DeLand, Florida where he was the Professor of Organ and Harpsichord for the next 37 years at Stetson University, developing the organ department to a status of national recognition.
Many of his former students hold, or have held, prestigious positions in universities and churches throughout the country. During his tenure at Stetson, Paul led several student tours, visiting and playing on many of the historic pipe organs throughout Europe.
He also had the opportunity to further his own studies with participation in the Haarlem Organ Academy, as well as taking a sabbatical in 1970 to study with famed harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt and improvisation with organist Cor Kee in the Netherlands. He had the honor of holding the Music School’s John E. & Aliese Price Chair at Stetson from 1981 until his retirement in 1992.
During his time in DeLand, he also devoted his skills for nearly a decade as the organist and choir director at St Barnabas Episcopal Church. Paul was a member of the American Guild of Organists and Pi Kappa Lambda, a national music honor society.
In 2010, Paul and Janice moved to Oklahoma City to be near their daughter and her family. Paul’s greatest legacies are his family and his students – the family received hundreds of messages in the days following his death from students recounting memories of his impact as a teacher and mentor, being included in family days on their sailboat, and dinner gatherings at their home.
He lives on in love in these memories and will never be forgotten. Paul is survived by his wife, Janice; two children, Cathy (Mike) Reaves and John Jenkins; five grandchildren, Liz (Brett) Buno, Jessica (Jay) Wilkinson, Zack (Parisa) Reaves, Jason Jenkins, and Jennifer (Trace) Norman; and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Monday, November 2nd at 7:30 PM at Lee Chapel (Elizabeth Hall) on the Stetson University campus in DeLand, Florida. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Stetson University.
Please direct your contributions to the Paul & Janice Jenkins Organ/Harpsichord Endowment Fund in memory of Paul Jenkins. To make an online gift, visit www.stetson.edu/give or send a check to Stetson University: 421 N Woodland Blvd, Unit 8286, DeLand, FL, 32724.
“Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit, and never dies” ~Edward Bulyer-Lytton~
Published in Daytona Beach News-Journal on Aug. 23, 2015