Phyllis Kelly Wimberley, 84 - Hi-Desert Star: Obituaries

Phyllis Kelly Wimberley, 84

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Posted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 12:24 am

Phyllis Kelly Wimberley died of cancer Aug. 16, 2012.

Phyllis was born Sept. 21, 1927, in Garfield Heights, Ohio, where she studied voice and piano from an early age. Her family moved to Alhambra in 1941 and she attended Alhambra High School. She continued her musical studies, was the accompanist for several singing groups in high school and was the soloist at First Christian Church in Alhambra.

In 1949, she was awarded a Bachelor of Music degree from Redlands University, where she had performed in a number of musical programs, including the lead in the opera “Carmen.” After college, she became the music superintendent for the Upland School District and later taught kindergarten and elementary music for the Ventura School District.

Among her musical accomplishments, her fondest memory was playing the part of Yum Yum in a San Fernando Valley performance of “The Mikado.” She and her husband had to bring their 2-month-old daughter to every rehearsal and performance and while they were on stage, the cast and crew tended the cradle.

For two years, she directed the combined Doctor’s and Monterey Park Concert Band and she was often asked to arrange and direct holiday performances for churches and communities in the San Gabriel Valley. She was an acclaimed accompanist and was often asked by amateurs and professionals alike to play for their performances.

For more than 50 years, she directed musical groups for those who enjoyed performing and for audiences who enjoyed good music. She served for 20 years as the director of the South Pasadena Christian Church Choir and later directed church choirs at the Methodist and Christian churches in Alhambra.

She and her husband built a home and relocated in 1991 to Yucca Valley, where she was for several years the director of the Yucca Valley Methodist Church Choir. Later, she became the director of the High Desert Chorale at the Cultural Center and when dates for performances were no longer available at the theater, changed the name of the group to the High Desert Chorus and arranged with the town of Yucca Valley to perform free annual spring and Christmas programs for the citizens of the community.

Phyllis is survived by her husband of 62 years, three daughters and five granddaughters.

There will be no services.

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