Kathleen Woods Ojala

 1948 - 1996

Kathleen Ojala, a pianist and conductor, was known for her accomplishments as a pianist and her work as a conductor of choral groups.

One of two children born to Leonard Ira and Frances Summerton Woods, Kathleen was born in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and spent her childhood in Takoma Park, Maryland. She and her brother, Kenneth, were raised in a home where their interest in music was encouraged. Their mother was a teacher and their father, a bass soloist, had been a drummer earlier in his life and had limited ability as a pianist.

Both Kathleen and Ken started piano lessons at an early age. She had a natural affinity for piano and decided on pursuing a career in music while attending Takoma Academy, now Takoma Adventist Academy. Following graduation from TA in 1966, she attended Andrews University and then transferred to Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University, where she completed a music degree in 1970. A piano student of Bruce Ashton while at SMC, she also served as accompanist for choirs under the direction of Marvin Robertson, chair of the music department.

She then attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C., where she completed a master's degree in piano performance, studying under Ney Salgado. She married Ken Ojala in 1973.

Ojala maintained a piano studio and was a conductor of Heritage Singers II in the early 1970s, a group that worked primarily on the East Coast and in the Midwest as part of the overall program of the Heritage Singers group, located on the West Coast. She also formed her own group, The Sounds of Peace, which was based in Takoma Park, and later served as minister of music at the Frederick, Maryland, Seventh-day Adventist Church, where she also taught music in its school. She taught briefly in the Frederick public school system.

Ojala was residing in Frederick at the time of her death at age 48. Her husband donated a Steinway B grand piano to SAU in her memory in 1999.


Sources: Information provided on IAMA biography form by her brother Kenneth, 2010; Southern Tidings, October 1999, 19; Review and Herald, 18 February 1988, 22 (Frances Woods obituary).