Obituary | James Hejduk

· 3 min read

Obituary | James Hejduk

Color photo of James Hejduk on black campus background

James Hejduk, former associate professor of music, died Sept. 18 at age 79.

A native of Madison, Ohio, Hejduk earned degrees from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and Indiana University, Bloomington. He received Rockefeller grants for post-graduate studies in choral conducting at Oberlin College and the Aspen Choral Institute, where he also sang in its chamber choir. He was the first musician awarded a Klingenstein Fellowship at Columbia University, where he studied the organ and developed an interdisciplinary curriculum focused on Johann Sebastian Bach. He also studied choral conducting in Cambridge, England, and organ in Paris with Marcel Dupré.

Hejduk’s teaching career began at The Millbrook School in Stanford, New York, in 1968. He served as director of choral music and chapel organist at Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts, from 1971 to 1986, followed by 12 years as a faculty member at Nebraska. He returned to the Boston area in 1998, joining the faculty at Belmont Hill School and resumed his position as organist and choirmaster at the Congregational Church of Needham.

Hejduk was a past president of the Nebraska Choral Directors Association and served the Massachusetts American Choral Directors Association as repertoire and standards chair for music and worship. He also served a term as a member of the choral panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. With his choirs from Milton Academy, Belmont Hill and Nebraska, he toured Romania (three times), the Czech Republic, Latvia, England, Italy, Quebec and New York City. His University Singers at Nebraska were invited to perform at several choral conventions.

Returning to Lincoln in retirement, Hejduk maintained a busy life largely centered on music. He was the organist for many years at Lincoln’s First Church of Christ Scientist and continued to attend conferences, symposia and conventions related to choral and organ music. An avid classical concertgoer and patron of the arts, he supported Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, the Lied Center, Abendmusik, the Lincoln Organ Showcase and the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center.

Hejduk is survived by his sister, Laurel (Jim) Van Slyke; sister-in-law, Kathy Hejduk; nephew, David (Sara) Van Slyke; niece, Sandra (Joe) Todd; grandnieces and a grandnephew, Camryn Walker and Jack and Anna Van Slyke. He was preceded in death by his brother, Russell.

A graveside service will be held at Fairview Cemetery in Madison, Ohio, at 11 a.m. Oct. 14. A memorial service will be held at the First Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 29.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the music programs of Belmont Hill School, Milton Academy or The Congregational Church of Needham. Condolences can be shared here.

Recent News