Robert William Van Ornam

1953 -

Robert (Bob) Van Ornam, primarily a Bible and history teacher, is also a trumpet player who has directed band and choir and taught music lessons in several Seventh-day Adventist schools during a career that spans over three decades. He presently teaches at Shenandoah Valley Academy, a position he has held since 2007.

Bob was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, the older of two children and the only son of William R. and Audra Ching Van Ornam. Both parents played piano and organ and raised their children in an atmosphere that encouraged their interest in music, starting them with piano lessons at an early age and supporting them when they pursued lessons on a second instrument. Bob started trumpet at age ten and his sister, Terrill (Terri) Rae, later studied the flute.

He studied with a trumpet teacher, Herb Patano, a former player in the Stan Kenton Orchestra, at a nearby community college from fourth grade through his high school years at Mountain View Academy. Following graduation from MVA in 1972, he enrolled at Pacific Union College, where he majored in religion and minored in music, studying trumpet with Carlyle Manous. He was principal trumpet in the PUC band and PUC brass ensemble from his freshman year on.

Following graduation from PUC in 1977 and marriage to Cheryl Morita in August, Van Ornam taught Bible and directed the band at San Diego Academy for three years.  In 1980 he pursued graduate study in religion for a year at Loma Linda University, La Sierra campus before they both were hired as teachers in 1981 at Redwood Academy in Santa Rosa, where he taught Bible and directed the band.

In 1983 the Van Ornams accepted positions as missionaries at Maxwell Academy in Nairobi, Kenya; he to teach Bible, history, music, and additional staff assignments; and she to teach grade school and assist in various ways as needed. During the next four years Robert played in a brass ensemble, taught trumpet one afternoon a week at the Nairobi Conservatory, and directed the Nairobi Orchestra on three occasions, two of them with just the winds and percussion.

Upon their return to the U.S, he taught at Redwood Academy for nine years, while Cheryl taught piano and organ at Rio Lindo Academy. While living there, Cheryl completed an A.S. in piano pedagogy and a B.A. in piano at PUC in 1996.

That year they moved to the Chicago area, where they taught at Hinsdale Academy for five years.  During this time she completed an M.Mus. at Northwestern University in 2001. In the fall of that year, Robert accepted a position as head teacher at Cedar Brook School, a K-8 school in Massachusetts, where they stayed for two years before going to Richmond Academy in Virginia.

During his last two years at RA, he directed the band and, after taking a position at Shenandoah Valley Academy in 2007 as Bible teacher, led its band for two years before the school discontinued the group, switching its emphasis in instrumental music to the orchestra.

Van Ornam still occasionally plays in brass ensembles and as a soloist.


Sources: Interview, 24 September 2013; California marriage index,; Adventist Review,10 November, 1983, 30, and 22 January 1987, 22.