Naomi Jungling Sica, pianist and organist, taught for over twenty years in two schools in the Seventh-day Adventist school system. She then was active in outreach programs of the church and still serves as a church musician in both Adventist and other churches.
Naomi was born in Lodi, California, the younger of two children of Jacob C. and Emily Jungling, German parents born in Russia; both came to America as children, their parents settling in North Dakota. They didn’t have the opportunity for much schooling, especially music study, and made sure their children did.
Sica attributes her interest in a career in music to the encouragement of Christian teachers in Seventh-day Adventist schools. She graduated from Lodi Academy in 1954. Her piano teachers at LA were Ruth Lust, from Argentina, and Yvonne Caro Howard, from New Zealand. Howard took Naomi to her first concert at the Lodi High School to hear pianist Leonard Pennario.
Naomi studied music and art at Pacific Union College, receiving a B.S. in music education in 1958. Her piano teachers at PUC were Lois Stauffer; Gilmour McDonald, a student of Leopold Godowsky; and Howard, who joined the PUC staff in 1956 and again became Naomi’s teacher. She studied organ with Barbara Tonsberg; theory with C. Warren Becker; conducting, orchestration, and brass methods with Melvin Hill, and string methods with Ivylyn Traver.
Art was a minor area in both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and she studied with the noted SDA artist Vernon Nye at PUC. She was one of fourteen PUC students to be listed in the 1957-58 edition of Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.
From 1958-1968 Jungling taught piano, art, theory and music appreciation at Monterey Bay Academy. During her first four years at MBA she taught with Robert Murray and was keyboardist (piano, harpsichord or organ, as needed) with the Santa Cruz Symphony in the 1960s. During this time she studied piano with Jesusa Fremont, a student of Alfred Cortot, and accompanied a string trio and a choral group in the community.
Jungling completed an M.A. in music and music education at San Jose State College (now University) in 1965. At SJSC she studied piano with William Erlendson and organ with Harold Jesson. In Berkeley, California, she studied piano both with Harald Logan, a student in Berlin of Egon Petri, who had studied with world famous composer and pianist Ferruccio Busoni; and with Egon Petri. It was during this time that she learned of the Robert Pace method of teaching piano in groups, took his workshops in the San Francisco Bay area and New York City, and began testing his new ideas.
From 1968-1979 Jungling taught at Union College, with her teacher from PUC days, Melvin Hill, chair of the department of music, and Robert Murray, a colleague from MBA days. She taught piano, sight-singing and ear training, music fundamentals, and piano pedagogy. She also accompanied various choral groups and played the violin in the college orchestra. She continued study in the summers and received a Professional Diploma, a second master’s, at Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1970.
In 1980, Jungling completed an Ed. D. in music and music education at TCCU. Her dissertation, The Development of the Solo Piano Suite Through the 20th Century, is a two-volume work of over 500 pages. She studied piano in New York with Santos Ojeda, of Cuba, the first foreign-born student to be accepted into the Juilliard School of Music; Martin Canin and Howard Aibel, students of and assistants to Rosina Lhevinne, of the Juilliard School of Music; harpsichord with Eugenia Earle; and theory with Donato Fornuto and Charles W. Walton, all teachers at TCCU.
While studying in New York City, Jungling met Philip T. Sica, a warrant officer in the NYC Department of Finance. Earlier he had served as a county detective in the Queens District Attorney’s office, and was appointed Marshal of NYC, an 8-year term, by Mayor John Lindsay. Sica had just been baptized an Adventist a week before he and Naomi met, in 1976.
While serving a summons on 34th Street across from Macy’s, an SDA literature evangelist gave Philip a Steps to Christ booklet and enrolled him in the Voice of Prophecy “New Life Bible Guides.” At the back of the booklet was the name of the Crossroads SDA Church, formerly called The New York Center, and he began to attend after reading the literature.
He had a keen interest in religion and took the ADP course (adult degree program) at Atlantic Union College, majoring in religion. Upon his graduation in 1980, he was hired by the Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists as pastor, Director of Trust Services, and Corporate Secretary. They married in September 1982.
It was the dream of Merlin Kretschmar, President of the Greater New York Conference of SDA during those years, to have a Seventh-day Adventist Information Center in Manhattan. He asked Naomi to run this pilot program in late 1982 and she accepted, managing it for nearly fourteen years. The SDAIC, located adjacent to the Adventist Book Center on 40th Street, just off of Fifth Avenue and across from the New York Public Library, proved to be a highly successful outreach program for the church.
Naomi and various pastors conducted noontime Bible studies twice a week and people who worked in mid-town Manhattan became regular attendees. Several began attending SDA churches and were baptized, including Muslims and Jews. She has a list of more than thirty people who were baptized from this outreach and considers this service as one of the highlights of her life.
In 1996 the Sicas were sent upstate to Livingston, New York, to work at the Adventist Retirement Center, Philip as pastor of two churches and Naomi as chaplain of the retirement and nursing homes. During their two years there, she continued as organist and choir director at the Trinity Lutheran Church in New Hyde Park, a position she began in early 1994 and, since her retirement in 1998, still holds. Before that she was organist at the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Rockville Centre; the Queens Baptist Church in Queens Village; and two other Lutheran churches.
Naomi often plays for Adventist churches in the NYC area and alternates on a regular basis with others as organist at the Jackson Heights SDA Church in Queens. She has been guest organist and pianist at several area churches of different denominations and regularly serves as keyboardist for seasonal presentations such as Handel’s Messiah. Beginning in 1983 and through the rest of that decade, she accompanied the Merrick Chorale on Long Island under the direction of Richard Gilley. The Sicas enjoy attending the open rehearsals of the NY Philharmonic Orchestra at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, in Manhattan.
Sources: Interview with Naomi Jungling Sica, 2007; Emails with additional information, November and December 2012; Pacific Union Recorder, 6 January 1958, 8; personal knowledge.