Margaret Grace Moline (Yakovenko) Young
1915 - 1999
Margaret Moline Young was a talented pianist and choir director who taught in three Seventh-day Adventist colleges during her career. She was known for her musical sensitivity and ability to inspire students to give memorable performances of significant choral masterpieces.
Margaret was born in Tofield, Alberta, Canada, on December 23, 1915, the youngest of four children of Peter Olaf and Anna Paterson Moline. Anna had grown up in a cultured home in Sweden and was a nurse in Stockholm when she accompanied her aunt one summer on a visit to Canada. While there, she met and married Peter Moline, a young Swedish homesteader. Anna wanted her children to have piano lessons, and although living on a farm, she transported them forty miles into Edmonton each week for lessons, regardless of the weather.
Margaret attended Canadian Junior College, later Canadian Union College, and now Burman University, where she received first-class honors when she passed the intermediate music history examinations at the Toronto Conservatory. She transferred to Pacific Union College, where she completed a B.A. in music in 1943, and later an M.A. in speech at the University of Southern California.
While completing her master's degree, she also studied piano in Los Angeles with noted pianist and pedagogue Ethel Leginska, an experience paid for by Margaret's sister, Astrid, a nurse at White Memorial Hospital. In later years, she would describe her experience with Leginska as a frightening one. Even though the experience was often stressful, Margaret felt it was a privilege to have studied with her.
To earn money to pay for her school expenses, she had started canvassing, selling Adventist books on horseback at age sixteen in Canada, and then canvassed for ten summers while attending CJC, PUC, and USC.
Moline returned to CUC as a faculty member in 1946, where she taught music appreciation and speech, gave lessons on piano and violin, and conducted the choirs for the next three years. Many of the college students were older, having returned from World War II to finish school, and the men, particularly Alex Yakovenko, were struck with her beauty and personality.
Tradition and protocol of that time at the college prohibited any chances of courtship. However, when CUC president E.E. Bietz learned that Alex's favorite aunt was a Beitz's cousin, he encouraged Alex to pursue his interest in Margaret. They married in 1948.
Ralph Coupland, a high school student then at CUC and later her successor as choir director at Oshawa Missionary College (now Kingsway College), attributes his appreciation for the power and beauty of choral music to "the inspired and artistic performances of the CUC Choir" under her direction. He recently observed, "Anyone who sang in her choirs still carries in their memory the songs "There is a Balm in Gilead," "A Song of Heaven and Homeland," and "My God and I."
While at CUC, Margaret also played an important role in overcoming the prejudice against Adventists and the school that existed in that region at the time. A 1959 article by J. M. Hnatyshyn on the front page of the Canadian Union Messenger related the following:
Ten years ago, the Canadian Union College choir under the direction of Margaret Moline-Young was able to sing over the air in Red Deer, Alberta. This was Red Deer's first and recently established radio station. It was the owner's policy to sell no time for religious broadcasts. An hour on Sunday was given to religion and that time was donated to the Council of Churches. The Seventh-day Adventist Church was refused permission to take part in these broadcasts.
Elder Don Neufeld and Gordon Balharrie were anxious to gain entrance on this station. . . . Together with Mrs. Young they interviewed the manager and requested him to broadcast a choir concert to be sung in the United Church in Red Deer. They were not aware that the owner was the former manager of one of Alberta's largest radio stations over which the Canadian Union College choir had sung three years earlier. Immediately, the manager recognized her and said they would be happy to handle the broadcast.
The program was advertised heavily, and when it was over, they were told they had performed for the largest audience ever to attend a concert in that community. Soon after that the radio station gave them free time on a weekly basis.
In 1950 Margaret and Alex moved to Angwin, California, so that Alex could complete a degree at Pacific Union College. During their first year there, she assisted J. Wesley Rhodes in the choral program. In the fall of 1951, William Sowers, a teacher at CUC who had just accepted the presidency of Oshawa Missionary College in Ontario, Canada, and who had been impressed with Margaret's earlier work with the CUC choirs, prevailed upon her to come to conduct OMC's choir and offered Alex employment as manager of the College Woodwork furniture factory.
In November, with their first-born six-week-old daughter, Patricia, the Yakovenkos left California and drove across the United States to Oshawa Missionary College, braving the cold winter weather and taking turns running in to eat at roadside diners while the other stayed with the baby in the warm car with the engine running.
For the first several years at OMC they lived in a small apartment in the girls' dorm where little "Patsy" would sometimes wander the halls of her extended home, making friends with all the girls. Four years later their second child, Richard, was born, and at that time they changed their name from Yakovenko to Young. For eight years Margaret directed the choirs, firmly establishing a choral legend at OMC which would continue with her successor, Ralph Coupland.
In 1960 the Youngs returned to California, where Alex completed his degree in industrial arts at PUC. For a short time, Margaret worked nights at the St. Helena Sanitarium and Hospital as a nurse's aide. Later, when Alex could be home with the children, she canvassed part time in the evenings.
These jobs helped support the family while Alex continued with graduate study. He subsequently taught wood shop for thirty years at a junior high school in Vallejo, commuting eighty miles round trip so that the family could continue to live in Angwin where the children would have access to music at PUC and its supportive schools.
Margaret was impressed by PUC violin teacher Ivylyn Traver's work with young children and started both Patricia and Richard in violin lessons with Traver, working closely with them as they practiced. When they were older, she gave more time to coaching Traver's other students, sharing a studio in PUC's Paulin Hall with Anita Ford, an adjunct faculty member. She also taught a few piano students gratis in her home when their parents couldn't afford to pay for lessons otherwise.
Patricia later recalled their childhood musical experience with Traver, commenting on how playing the violin became an important part of her life:
In the fall of 1960, shortly after we arrived in California, my parents attended a Canadian reunion on the PUC campus where part of the entertainment was a string ensemble of young students who played remarkably well. Mother was so impressed with their playing and the obvious quality of teaching which had led to that performance level that she went to the teacher, Ivylyn Traver, the following Monday and signed up both of us to start violin lessons.
Mother would become a very important part of the lives of many of Ivylyn's students. She and Ivylyn worked together for years, with mother coaching and assisting in that program. She had a talent of being able to verbally communicate to the children the mechanics of playing and how to get the many tonal qualities and sounds that Ivylyn would encourage in their lessons. Mother was the coach and Ivylyn was the teacher.
In 1987 Margaret and Alma Lushik Kravig, accompanist for the choirs in 1947, were invited back to CUC for Heritage Homecoming on the school's 80th anniversary to conduct a reunion choir. She was invited back for another Heritage Homecoming a decade later, in 1997, but was unable to attend.
Margaret and Alex were living in Angwin when she died two years later, on December 13, 1999, at age 83, her life ending on the same day her first grandchild, Annika Young, was born. A former CUC student, Joanne Herman Oliver, said in a tribute written to Margaret's family at that time:
She was able to make us sing like angels even though none of us had background. And when she taught us choral music, . . . she always emphasized the spiritual message to us - not only the 'how' of choral music, but the 'why." The memory of singing on the hillside by the lake on Sabbath - "The Song of Heaven and Homeland' [was]an outstanding experience. How influential teachers are in the lives of the young.
Sources: Peter Olaf Moline obituary, Canadian Union Messenger, April 8, 1953, 83; Conversations between Patricia Young and Dan Shultz; additional information provided by her in response to proposed copy, August 2011, important sources for this biographical sketch; Canadian Union Messenger, April 2, 1935, 7; Canadian Union Messenger, October 3, 1945, 11; Margaret Young, "Friendships Formed in Wealthy Influential Homes," Canadian Union Messenger, November 9, 1960, 359; Interview with Ralph Coupland by writer, 2011; J. M. Hnatyshyn, "Music Opens Doors," Canadian Union Messenger, March 4, 1959, 1; Personal knowledge, I worked with Ralph Coupland at Walla Walla College, now University, and was aware of his successful work at Kingsway College; "Heritage Homecoming June 87," (CU) Messenger, September 1987; Joanne Herman Oliver, letter to Alex following the death of Margaret, December 1999.