Margaret Jo Urick Bledsoe
1924 - 2012
Margaret Bledsoe, organist and pianist, assisted her husband, J.D., in teaching music at Seventh-day Adventist academies in North Dakota, California, North Carolina, and Florida. She also served as a church musician for most of her life.
Born in Greensboro, Alabama, and raised in Selma, Margaret started taking piano lessons from her mother in the third grade. Even though her mother was an accomplished pianist and had studied piano with some very fine teachers, she arranged for her daughter to continue study with other teachers.
When Margaret entered Southern Junior College, now Southern Adventist University, she studied with Harold A. Miller, an experience she particularly enjoyed. She also started lessons on organ at SMC, and later at Washington Missionary College, now Washington Adventist University, studied with Harold Doering. Even though her primary area of study was in secretarial science, she was heavily involved in music throughout her college years.
During the World War II years, she left college to work as a secretary at the Pullman Car Company, a famous maker of railroad passenger cars. Following the war, she attended WMC for a year, and then returned to Southern, which had renamed itself Southern Missionary College and gained accreditation as a senior college. She served as editor of the college yearbook, Southern Memories, in her senior year.
After graduating from SMC in 1950 with a degree in secretarial science, she taught organ at the college and served as church organist. In 1953 she married J. D. Bledsoe who had just graduated with a double major in theology and music. Miller, who had figured prominently in their lives at SMC, sang at their wedding.
Following their marriage, the Bledsoes accepted a position teaching music at Sheyenne River Academy, now Dakota Adventist Academy, in North Dakota, where she taught English and secretarial science and assisted in organ instruction.
When an opportunity to teach at Newberry Park Academy developed at the end of that first year, the Bledsoes eagerly accepted it, having as Southerners found that living in North Dakota was difficult. After three years at NPA and two years at San Pasqual Academy, where he taught music and she taught English and secretarial science and assisted in music, J. D. accepted a position at Lynnwood Academy in 1960, where he taught for the next nine years, and Margaret taught in the public school system.
While teaching, the Bledsoes had completed master's degrees in the 1950s at Vanderbilt University, by taking class work in the summers, he in music and she in secondary education.
They moved to Mt. Pisgah Academy in North Carolina in 1969, because she was beginning to have respiratory problems, possibly related to the smog in Southern California.
After four years at MPA, the Bledsoes moved to Florida in 1973, where he chaired the department and taught music at Forest Lake Academy until 1993, when they retired. In those years, she assisted him in his organ duties at the Forest Lake SDA Church. They were living in Florida when she died at age 87.
Sources: Interviews/Conversations, Margaret and J.D. Bledsoe, October and November 2007; Letter with enclosures, 26 November 2007; Social Security Death Index (2012).