Verne Kelsey

1897 - 1982

Verne Kelsey was a multi-talented keyboard teacher at Canadian Junior College, now Canadian University College, from 1930 to 1932, and at Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, from 1944 to 1962. Just prior to his arrival at CJC in 1930, the school had a disastrous fire that destroyed three buildings. Fortunately, a recently purchased 9-foot Chickering grand piano was saved through the heroic efforts of two students.

In spite of this daunting beginning during a time when the school was struggling to recover, Kelsey had a successful experience during his two years there. He was a frequent performer on and off campus. He moved to Kentucky at the end of his two years at the college to do self-supporting missionary work.

In his eighteen years at EMC, he was a beloved teacher and colleague. He served as organist, taught music theory and music history, and was chair of the department for several years. Besides being a fastidious keyboard performer, who could often be found practicing piano in the music building at 5 a.m., and a composer, Kelsey was a voracious reader and had an avid interest in languages and mathematics. Known as "Mr. Versatile" on campus, he was also an artist who loved to paint or use his camera.

Kelsey held an associate diploma from the Toronto Conservatory of Music (ATCM) and had earned an M.Mus. degree before teaching at EMC. While at EMC, he completed a DFA at Chicago Musical College, now the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, in 1951. His dissertation was titled The Use of Diminished 7th Chords in the Recitatives of Bach's Church Cantatas.

When he retired from teaching at AU in 1962, he was one of three faculty members to receive the AU Meritorious Service Award during commencement. After leaving AU, Kelsey served as president of Fletcher Hospital in Fletcher, North Carolina. During these years he was an inveterate letter writer to the Review and Herald from 1966 to 1980, writing over a dozen about a number of subjects, including the need for new translations of the Bible (1969) and the importance of Biblical languages in Seminary training (1970). He was residing in nearby Hendersonville, North Carolina, at the time of his death at age 84.



Andrews University alumni magazine, Focus, September 1982; 1949, 1952 EMC Cardinal; R&H, 4 October 1962, 29 December 1966, 9 November, 1967; 10 October 1968, 25 September 1969, 19 February 1970; email, Edith Fitch, 10 April 2008.