Carl Wessman, Jr.

1935 - 2007

Carl Wessman taught in Seventh-day Adventist schools in the U.S. and Canada for over thirty years. A singer, he was a frequent soloist during his years as a student and teacher and in his retirement.

Carl was born in Chicago, the son of Carl, Sr. and Louise Wessman. At age nine, his father, who was a minister, accepted a position in Canada. Music was an important part of his childhood since both parents had beautiful voices and sang frequently in public. His mother, a pianist, encouraged Carl in his first piano lessons.

From his earliest years, Carl, encouraged by his parents, sang solos in church. His training in voice, which started with suggestions from his parents, continued with lessons at Cedar Lake Academy, where he graduated in1953, and then at Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University.

Although Wessman enjoyed all of his voice teachers, he particularly enjoyed the voice instruction and the choral experience he had at EMC under Melvin Davis and Minnie Iverson Wood. He especially considered Davis an important role model and mentor.

Two years after starting college, Wessman married Gloria Maxine Jones, a musical person who enjoyed singing and playing the piano. His marriage, and interest in taking classes in subjects besides those needed to complete a music degree, particularly Bible, led to a longer than usual stay at the college. During his years at EMC, renamed Andrews University during his time at the school, he was often featured as a soloist with the Collegians and was a member of other musical groups. He completed a B.Mus.Ed. in 1961, a member of the first class to graduate from AU.

Upon graduation, he accepted a position as choir director and seventh grade teacher at Greater Miami Academy in Florida, where he taught for three years. While there, he studied voice with Buddha Gerace, an experience he particularly enjoyed.

In 1964, Martin Collegiate High School, a large school in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, hired Wessman to direct the choir and be head of its music department. While at MCHS, he directed many successful musical productions, including Sound of Music, South Pacific, and others. His choir was chosen as a centennial choir for Canada's centennial celebration.

Canadian Union College, now Canadian University College, invited him to be chair of the music department and direct its choral program in 1967. For the next two years, he taught fifty voice lessons per week, directed two choirs, taught music classes, and directed several large musical productions, some with patriotic themes.

When the opportunity to return to the States came in 1969, the Wessmans accepted a position at Pioneer Valley Academy in New Braintree, Massachusetts. The PVA experience proved to be an enjoyable one for the family because of the school's rural setting and the opportunity for Carl to teach Bible as well as carry a lighter load in music.

In his ten years at PVA, Wessman toured extensively on the East Coast and did a number of special Christmas programs, including the Messiah, on campus and in a large protestant church in a nearby town each year. The 1975 yearbook was dedicated to him.

In 1979 he accepted a position at Battle Creek Academy, a day school, in Michigan, where he taught Bible and directed the choir for two years before accepting an invitation from Broadview Academy in Illinois to serve as vice-principal and registrar. A year later, in 1982, he completed an M.A. in psychology and guidance at Worcester State University in Massachusetts. By the time he left BVA in 1991, he was also teaching Bible and serving as guidance counselor. Although Wessman found some musical fulfillment by continuing to sing during his years at BA, he came to regret the decision to leave music teaching.

After an interim year at Sacramento Academy in California, Wessman taught at Weimar, a self-supporting Adventist college and academy in the state, where he directed the choir and taught Bible for four years, until his retirement in 1997. The Wessmans were living in Meridian, Idaho, when Carl died in the summer of 2007, at the age 72.  

The Wessmans' two sons, Marlon and Timothy, became fine singers and adept players on brass instruments. Both were participants in select choirs and played in academy bands. Their two grandchildren, Micah and Kira (Fazzari), children of Marlon and his wife, Tonya Camp, are accomplished performers on cello and violin, respectively.


Source: Information provided by Gloria Maxine Jones Wessman, wife of Carl Wessman, Jr., 8 October 2007; Andrews University Focus, Summer 2008, 38.