Norman John Roy


Norman J. Roy was born in Aurora, Missouri, on September 8, 1924, the oldest child and only son of four children of Rufus John and Iona Elvera Swanson Roy.  He spent most of his childhood in Peru, where his parents served as missionaries. They spent a term in the high Andes and later moved to Lima, Peru, where his father served as Superintendent of the mission.


The family returned to the United States in 1941 and Roy graduated from Keene Junior College, now Southwestern Adventist University, in 1943.  He attended Union College, where he completed a B.A. in music in 1947 and then earned an M.Mus. at Northwestern University in 1956. He later completed all classwork toward a doctorate at Boston University.


While attending Union College, Norman met Margaret Steeves and they married on August 31, 1947.  Prior to their marriage she had been secretary to the director of the Youth Department at the Potomac Conference for three years, before resuming school at Union College. They would have two daughters, Sherryl Linnae (Rampton) and Sandra Jean (Schmid).


Roy directed choirs and chaired the music departments at Sheyenne River Academy, now Dakota Adventist Academy, and Lodi Academy from 1947 to 1957 and then taught at Atlantic Union College from 1957 to 1971. At AUC he was assistant professor of voice and choral music and eventually served as chair of the music department.


In his first year at the college he formed the Aeolians, a select choir that would create a tradition in choral excellence which inspired members of the group and audiences alike, a legend that lingers today at the school. The group brought prestige to the college as it performed extensively in the Eastern United States and Canada. As is true of many teachers, the influence of the man and his effect on the lives of his students and colleagues were equally as important as his professional accomplishments.


Roy subsequently served as Associate Director of Admissions and Records at Andrews University and retired in 1988, following forty-one years in education. Beginning at Sheyenne River and Lodi academies, Margaret served as secretary to the principal at both schools and subsequently served as secretary to five presidents at AUC and to several at AU. 


Roy had several hobbies, including model railroading, philately, beekeeping, photography, skiing, jogging, camping, reading, and flower gardening. In 1994 the Roys moved to Hendersonville, North Carolina, where, after a lingering illness, he died on December 18, 1998, at age 74. He was survived by Margaret, their two daughters, six grandchildren, and his mother and three sisters. Margaret was living with one of their daughters in Parrish, Florida, when she died on September 7, 2015, at age 94.


Sources: Brauer Research Family Tree, Ancestory.Com; Norman Roy obituary in the Andrews University Focus, Winter 1999, 33; Norman Roy obituaries, Lake Union Herald, April 1999, 23, and Southern Tidings, April 1999,37; New York Passenger Lists, 28 May 1940; information provided by his wife, Margaret; personal knowledge; Margaret Roy obituaries, Southern Tidings, December 2015 and Union College Cord, Summer  2016, 32.


Norman J. Roy

Norman J. Roy served as director of choirs at Atlantic Union College from 1957 to 1971. In his first year there he established the Aeolians, a select choir that would create a tradition in choral excellence which inspired both members of the group and audiences alike, one that lingers today as a great legend at the school. But, as it is with many music teachers, the influence of the man and his effect on the lives of his students and colleagues was equally as important as his professional accomplishments.

Even though I did not sing in his choirs, I became acquainted with him as we rode back and forth from AUC to Boston for two years, for his doctoral voice study and my oboe lessons as an undergraduate student. It was a wonderful way for a student to get acquainted with one of his teachers. There were many laughs over the traffic and other experiences that could happen only when travelling in his Renault.

He also provided a pivotal moment for me as a conductor when I chanced upon him in rehearsal one day in the old chapel at what is now Founders Hall, preparing the Aeolians for a performance of the Brahms Liebeslieder. I was totally taken with his absorption in the music and uninhibited interaction with the choir - and their spirited response, in turn, to him.

The following are tributes from students and colleagues. The enthusiastic response of Doris Griffin Krueger, former Aeolian member and present director of choral activities at AUC, to an invitation to coordinate this project on behalf of IAMA is deeply appreciated.

Dan Shultz

Let Not your Song End. . .

Doris Krueger Griffin

Other than his family, perhaps no other group was affected as much by the death of former Atlantic Union College music professor Norman J. Roy as were former members of the Aeolians. We were all deeply touched with the loss of our beloved teacher, friend, and mentor.

My memories of Mr. Roy span many years, from the time I was a music major at AUC, through many years of calls for advice as I taught, to the planning of several Aeolian reunions. As a student, I sang in all of the choral groups he conducted and also studied voice with him. He was an important influence in my life. My husband, Myron Krueger, my sister, Joan Griffin Cannuli, and I are proud to have been charter members of the Aeolians.

Colleagues and students from Norman Roy's AUC days have shared memories with me of their time spent with him. Stanley Walker, former AUC department chair, talked of how he had enjoyed working with Roy and interacting with his wife, Margaret, and his two lovely daughters, Sherryl and Sandra. He felt he was one of the best organized people he had ever worked with, had excellent choirs, and was easy to follow as a conductor.

Joyce Hanscom Lomtz described her experience as a freshman in the Aeolians. She felt he conducted with his heart and soul and with great energy. She remembers he always called the Aeolians "the cream of the crop." As an insecure teenager he made her feel that at least one person on earth thought she was valuable.

It is my privilege now to be back where it all started for me, having returned to AUC as director of choral activities. While singing under Norman Roy's leadership, I never thought that I might someday be in his position! For me, the music that became the Aeolians' theme, "Let Not Your Song End," has unique and special meaning.


A Christian Gentleman

Arni Asgeirsson

When I arrived at AUC, the Lancastrian Chorale was the choral group. It was Norman Roy’s first year and he started the Aeolians, a smaller, more select group. I remember auditioning and the pleasure I felt over being accepted. There were a number of good voices and it was fun to go to rehearsals.

One of my strongest memories is learning the Fred Waring arrangement of T’was the Night Before Christmas. We sang it several times. The performance that sticks in my mind was a Christmas concert in the cafeteria. The room was festively decorated and we performed well.

Norman was a stickler for detail when it came to performance. Even so, he was never curt or short with the students, getting what he wanted with kindness. Perhaps my strongest memory is that he was both a Christian gentleman and a good musician.


He will be missed. . .

James Londis

It must be remembered that Mr. Roy came to AUC when the choir was in an uproar due to unfortunate events in the previous year. Given the fact that musical performing groups at that time were the Adventist equivalent of sporting groups, not having a well- trained choir to travel and represent the school was a recruiting officer’s nightmare. Roy created the Aeolians to be that group and persuaded us that in spite of what had happened, we could sing and sing well.

He was a gentleman and a Christian who could get angry over sloppy work, yet maintain a kind disposition. He will be missed.


A Special Place

Julie Quaile Lee

One of my favorite memories of Mr Roy happened at the end of the first semester in my freshman year when he invited me to sing with the Aeolians. Jeannette Rothe and I had sung soprano in the Lancastrian Chorale in the first semester and had often joked about someday being "good enough" to sing in the Aeolians, never expecting that we would both have an opportunity the next semester. Being a rather timid freshman, I probably never would have had the courage to sign up to audition, so it was special to me to be personally invited not to audition, but to join the group!

Being in the Aeolians changed the direction of my life. Originally I had not planned to return to AUC for the second semester, but Mr. Roy was very persuasive, for which I am eternally grateful. With his support and encouragement I eventually graduated with degrees in both music education and secretarial science. Not only did Roy affect my young life in a special way he also touched the lives of many others and will hold a special place in our hearts forever.


An Exceptional Experience

Albert R. Deininger

The highlights of my experience at AUC were the music programs, from playing in the band to singing in the Aeolians. It was an exceptional experience! Norman Roy stands out for his attention to detail, quest for excellence, kindness towards students, enthusiasm for music, and firm belief that we could do anything we put our minds to.

I remember the trip to the Music Educators National Convention in Washington, D.C., the performances of Amahl and the Night Visitors, singing Hodie Cristus Natus Est in a round against the four walls of Machlan Auditorium and the many concerts at churches and schools. To this day, music has been an integral part of my life and has provided great personal satisfaction.

I thank Norman Roy and others since him in the music department for their part in making the education at AUC a balanced liberal arts experience.


A Soft-spoken Man with Boundless Energy

Ellsworth Judy

Former Chair, AUC Music Department

Norman Roy was a soft spoken man with boundless energy who developed the AUC choral program to a very high point with his considerable musical skills. The Aeolians were the capstone of his career. Many of the church’s remarkable people were members of this select group and are part of the school’s good reputation.

Personally, his family and mine were tied closely together, not only by our musical careers at AUC, but by the fact that our wives were administrative secretaries at the college and that we both had two daughters of nearly the same age. Our lives were fairly closely intertwined, with work, school, Sabbath school, Pathfinders, etc..

An event that I remember most clearly, after almost forty years, is the time we went to Plymouth Rock on Thanksgiving morning, when the Mayflower replica was docked nearby. With our girls, who were decked out in their Pilgrim dresses, we saw several reenactments of battles and other Pilgrim events. This trip and the delicious vegetarian Turkey dinner later that day remain as a wonderful memory of this kind Christian man and his family.

A Heavenly Reunion

Melvin and Betty West

The Roys and Wests go "way back" - in fact, to Lodi, California, where the two families were often found at the home of my parents enjoying some homemade ice cream. When a choral opening occurred at AUC I immediately suggested Norman's name. The Roys responded positively and thus began an even closer association between our families. I recall when our little two-and-a-half-year-old son, Larry, declared he wanted to become a farmer, Roy's two-year-old daughter, Sandy, asked if she could be the farmer’s wife.

Our families kept in touch after time together at AUC. Nearly 20 years later, the Roys found themselves "babysitting" our boxer dog at Andrews University one summer while we made the transition from Walla Walla College to Kettering, Ohio. Norman and Margaret were always very pleasant to work with and so willing to be of whatever help they could in whatever situation they found themselves. What a joy it will be at the great heavenly reunion to be reunited with them and the many other friends from this planet who have blessed our earthly journey.

A Mentor and Friend

Terry Koch

Elementary and Junior High music specialist; adjunct professor in elementary music education, Walla Walla College, College Place Washington

How can one put a value on godly influence? Only from the perspective of eternity will God's plans for our lives, sometimes made known through the tact and wisdom of others here on earth, take on their true significance.

When I was a senior Music Education major at Atlantic Union College, Norman Roy, who was my advisor and voice teacher, suggested I consider a career in elementary music education. He said he felt I had the personality and gifts for success in that area. As I think back on this occurrence in my life, I am in awe of his confidence and prophetic insight. Not only did his predictions prove correct (I have now taught for over thirty years at mostly the elementary level) but I was shown by his example the power of mentoring, influence, and dedication to excellence that I have tried to emulate and continue to strive for.

In the years since graduating from AUC, I kept in contact with Mr. Roy, much as an aircraft in flight keeps in touch with ground controls. His interest in my career and his positive and affirming words gave me courage and enthusiasm for my lifework. He continued to be interested in my vocal development after I left AUC and did graduate work at Andrews University, where in subsequent years he had become registrar.

As a member of the "Aeolians," I had always hoped to return to AUC for a choral reunion. However, I lived in Hawaii for many years and the distance and cost for just a weekend were just too great. When I relocated to Walla Walla, Washington, I was finally able to attend the 1996 Aeolian reunion. By then, Mr. Roy was suffering the effects of Parkinson's disease, and was able to conduct us only on one anthem, Lutkin's The Lord Bless You and Keep You." Even though his motions were slow and stilted as a result of his physical condition, he still evidenced the grace and power that was part of his musical manner. Many of us could not make it through that performance without shedding tears. It would be the last Aeolian reunion with Mr. Roy present.

Last December, I received a call from Mrs. Roy that her husband was near death. Her invitation to sing for the memorial service was an honor impossible for me to turn down. The opportunity to express even a fraction of one's gratitude while a person lives is wonderful; to be able to participate in an occasion remembering such a very special life is even more precious.

I was asked to sing the Aeolians' theme song, the text of which appears to exactly typify the life of Norman Roy. The song begins,

"Let not your song end with its singing, but let it flood the world with its harmony; and let it fill all living with rejoicing."

I believe this was Norman Roy’s mission in life. And as a tossed pebble gently disturbs the tranquil surface of water by sending out ever-widening circular ripples, his life continues to radiate wherever songs and anthems are sung, harmony sounds, and life rejoices.

Spring/Summer 1999 Notes (International Adventist Musicians Association) 8-13