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Jack Darr

That is just one of the ways Jack Darr kept his pupils engaged and one of the reasons he was as popular with science, math, and English students as he was with the junior and senior choirs, madrigal singers, music, and voice students. And it’s why they still think of him fondly decades after they sat in his classroom at Wellsville High School.

Wellsville Village Mayor Randy Shayler was to declare Friday, Sept. 2, Jack Darr Day in the Village of Wellsville.

Sadly, Darr won’t be there for the accolade. He passed away Nov. 21, 2020, in Orlando, Florida. He won’t be there, but his children will acknowledge the honor, along with his friends and many of the students he touched in his 32 years in the music department at Wellsville.

One of his former students, Gail Duke Allen, who as an adult performed with local musical groups, recalled, “While I was growing up, I was constantly exposed to guitar, fiddle music and song in our home, so music was certainly not unfamiliar to me. But when I got to high school and entered Jack Darr’s class a whole new world opened up to me. He introduced me to classical vocal music and above all musical theater.

“I was lucky enough to be offered voice lessons which I dearly loved. He took me and many others to competitions, so I learned how to sing in front of people. Throughout my life I have used all the skills Mr. Darr taught me. I am very thankful to have had him as a mentor and will always have fond memories of him and his impact on my life.”

Darr’s musical guidance didn’t stop when he retired from high school. His career continued when he became the choral director of the well-known Genesee Valley Chorus. He directed the choir several separate times over the years.

A long-time member of the GVC, Sharlet Fuller also has fond memories of singing under Jack Darr’s direction. “He was an excellent director and kept the chorus going over the years. He directed us several separate times. It was a large group and he had us doing several different concerts. He was a nice man to sing for.”

Julie Darr Jenkins, Darr’s daughter, who now lives in Florida, sent a Facebook message to her friends in Wellsville, inviting them to a Celebration of Life service for her father.

“As many of you know our Dad, Jack Darr, passed in November 2020 and due to COVID and family obligations we haven’t been able to have a Celebration of Life for him.

“Our Dad loved Wellsville and raised us there. We all are traveling to Wellsville over Labor Day weekend and will be hosting a drop-in reception at L’Italia on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Please feel free to stop in and say hello to Jay, Jeff, Joel, and me. Whether our Dad was your teacher, your band director, your chorus director, your softball coach, your golf partner, or any other hats he wore, we’d love to have this time to honor him and share him with you.”

John “Jack” Darr Jr. was born in East Stroudsburg, Pa., in 1931. He attended undergraduate school at Mansfield State University where he received a master’s degree in music education. He earned his Master of Science in Education from Alfred University and later completed graduate work at Syracuse University.

Darr taught in several schools, including three years at Otto-Eldred High School in Duke Center, Pa., one year at Olean High School — and 32-years at Wellsville High School. He was also an adjunct professor at Jamestown Community College for several years.

He was a veteran of the U.S. Army and played clarinet with the 326th Army Band. He enjoyed music his entire life and directed church choirs, the Genesee Valley Chorus and was involved in several musical theater productions in Wellsville.

Darr was a member of the Loyal Order of the Masons and a past member of the Lions Club. He is buried at McKean Memorial Park in Lafayette Township, Pa.