Jane Summerour Ralls

1926 - 2013

Jane Ralls, an accomplished violinist, was an active performer all her life. The youngest of three children, she grew up in a home in which music was an important part of life. Her Mother, Gradye Brooke Summerour, who had been the first significant music teacher at what is now Southern Adventist University, insisted that the children take music lessons. Jane would be the only one who would pursue a musical career.

She attended public school through her junior high school year and transferred to the academy at Southern Junior College, now SAU, for her senior year. Following two years doing college level work, she transferred to Washington Missionary College, now Washington Adventist University, attracted by the possibility of studying with George Wargo, chair of the music department and an accomplished string performer who had been principal chair of the National Symphony for fifteen years.

She graduated with a B.A. in music in 1946 from CUC. When the music department offered a B.Mus. in violin performance shortly after that, she completed it in 1949. Ralls began teaching at the college in 1952, giving violin lessons and teaching classes there and in a nearby grade school and academy. She also continued to take music classes at Peabody Conservatory of Music and at Catholic University of America.

In 1959, her husband, Walter Ralls, a professor in history, accepted a position at Pennsylvania State University, where they lived for two years before relocating to Hobart College in Geneva, New York, where he taught until he retired. Before these moves and in the years that followed, she frequently performed in recitals as a chamber musician and soloist with Neil Tilkens, a piano teacher at CUC. Through the years, Ralls continued to play frequently in numerous settings. She also completed a master's degree in violin performance at CUA in 1976.

Beginning in 1972, she taught strings in the Fairfax County, Virginia, school system at the intermediate and high school level, an experience she enjoyed. She retired in 1988. In the intervening years she continued to play locally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she and her husband resided. She died following a brief but severe illness at age 87.


Source: Interview, 2007; Obituary, 26 October 2013 (It provides a birth year of 1916, an inaccuracy).