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James J. Willow, 71, of 878 Bethany Turnpike, Honesdale, PA, passed away peacefully while asleep at his niece Carol Dinsmore’s home in Dagus Mines on September 7, 2022. He was born on December 4, 1950, in Johnsonburg, son of the late Glen and Idabelle (Lynch) Willow. Jim was an avid musician and music educator. A graduate of Johnsonburg Area High School Class of 1968, he attended Mansfield State University where he received his bachelor’s degree in music education. He was recently honored with the Mansfield State University Distinguished Alumni award. He played flute as his principal instrument, studying in Matsumoto Japan with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, developer of the Suzuki Method. Using these studies coupled with others in music theory, he developed a curriculum that both engaged and enabled students to be exemplary musicians. Most of Jim’s professional career was spent as the Director of Bands at Wayne Middle School in Honesdale, PA from 1974 to 2005 where he was responsible for Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Chamber Ensembles, Jazz Band along with all instrumental lessons. He also served as advisor for the Tri-M Music Honor Society. During his tenure there, he made many friends, taught many students and received many awards and recognitions—both personally and as the teacher who guided many to award-winning competitive music events on local, state, national and international levels. He was recognized as the Outstanding Educator for Middle School by the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association.
Another of Jim’s –-or Willow’s to his Honesdale friends— great loves was the Young Artist Showcase that he co-directed for ten years. Nothing beat his love of music and teaching students to experience that same passion. Those who knew him also knew his humorous side and ability to create “groups” …one of the first being the “Mill Street Gang” for those of us who had the privilege of playing together non-stop during our childhood years. He also kept in touch with many of his high school classmates, especially those involved in band.
Jim is survived by brothers Roland Akers of St Marys and Gary (Connie) Akers of Johnsonburg; his niece Carol Dinsmore (Melvin) with whom he resided in Dagus Mines, his cat Frankie, his life-long best friend Patty Stubber, many nieces and nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, cousins and all the wonderful and caring friends and students he met over the years. In addition to his parents, Jim was predeceased by a brother Robert G. Willow (Rio) who was killed in the Vietnam War; Norma Peters; Judy Nagel; Connie Akers; Richard Akers; niece Mia Akers; great niece Courtney Kreckel; great nephew Mark Rhines, Jr.
A memorial service will be held Friday, September 16th at 10 am at Ubel Funeral Home, 111 Bridge Street in Johnsonburg. Condolences may be shared with family members at the funeral home from 9 am until time of the service. Memorial contributions if desired, are requested to be made to the Fall Music Festival Scholarship fund either online at https://waynefoundation.networkforgood.com/projects/122717-fall-music-festival-fund; by check to the Wayne County Community Foundation 214 9th Street Honesdale, PA 18431 with "Fall Music Festival in memory of Jim Willow" in the memo line or to an animal shelter of your choice. The family will be accepting online condolences at the Ubel Funeral Home website (www.nedzafamilyfuneralhomes.com)
For friends and students of Jim's in Honesdale, there will be a musical tribute in his honor in Spring of 2023 with the date to be announced.