Ann Roberts Small entered her Easter life on December 28, 2021, in DeLand, Florida, where she had resided for nearly half of her remarkably varied life. She was born on May 1, 1940, in Montgomery, Alabama, the only daughter of Clarence Merilton Small and Elva Roberts Small. She is remembered by countless colleagues and former students for her distinguished career as Professor of Music Education at Stetson University (1983-2011), where she directed and championed the music education program. In 1985, she founded the Stetson University Children’s Choir (now Young Singers) and conducted the program for over 25 years. Dr. Small’s lifelong love of music and commitment to the power of education are reflected in degrees earned from Wheaton College (Bachelor of Music Education, 1962), Auburn University (Masters of Education, 1965), and Florida State University (Doctor of Philosophy, College of Music, 1977). In the 1990’s, she earned Artist and Master Teacher Certificates at the Choral Music Experience (CME) Institute for Choral Teacher Education, founded by Doreen Rao, University of Toronto.
Dr. Small and her dedicated cadre of colleagues and volunteers brought choir members life-changing adventures through travel to many invitational performances at state, regional and national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association and Music Educators National Conference (now National Association for Music Education), with destinations including New Orleans, Toronto, Tennessee, Savannah, Greensboro, and Disney (MENC’s “World’s Largest Concert”). Perhaps most memorable were the trips to Newfoundland (1998, the inaugural Festival 500, where the choir met Queen Elizabeth!), and Scotland (2000, where they were the Young Artists-in-Residence at the Choral Music Experience Institute hosted at Saint Andrews University, St. Andrews). A teacher-scholar at heart, Dr. Small researched children’s voices, published numerous articles in choral and music education journals, and frequently appeared as clinician and conductor at meetings of MENC and ACDA.
Ann’s life was rich beyond her professorial research and music-making. Complex Lego creations (think the U.S. Capitol) were happily displayed in her kitchen. Over the years, she rode a scooter and shared her love for her horse with friends. She was an avid professional tennis follower and college football fan, always rooting for Auburn, Alabama, and Clemson, in that order. Friends came to expect a lively call during an ongoing game to celebrate or commiserate over “their” team. She loved to light up the grill, throw on some steaks, and spend time enjoying friends new and old. By her side or overrunning the room would be one to four beloved Dachshunds, several generations of whom bore the names Hatter or Higgins.
Upon retirement, Dr. Small was awarded Professor Emerita status for her distinguished service to the university and the wider community. She retained great interest in choral research and conducting, founding and conducting Inspirare, a choral ensemble of female voices that enlivened the summers of many women in the community.
Ann was delighted and grateful that in retirement her faith deepened, and at the same time she remained at heart a teacher. She served for six years as the Elder for Adult Discipleship at First Presbyterian Church DeLand, and for almost a decade, she led a wide array of evening Bible classes, often ending with a recording of exquisite choral music. For many years, she was drawn to and inspired by the life and writings of German Lutheran pastor, theologian, and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), himself a polished musician. Indeed, Bonhoeffer was the focus of her final study.
Ann was preceded in death by her beloved parents, Clarence Merilton Small and Elva Roberts Small, and her brother, Clarence M. Small, Jr. She is survived by her sister-in-law Gretchen Reeves Small (Cary, NC), nephew William Stephen Small (Tampa, FL), nieces Eliz
abeth Ann Small (Atlanta, GA) and Laura Carol Small (Birmingham, AL), and Higgins III. Donations in her memory may be made to the Music Ministry, First Presbyterian Church DeLand. The Service of Witness to the Resurrection and Celebration of the Life of Ann Small will take place on Saturday, February 19, at 2:00 pm, in Lee Chapel (Elizabeth Hall) on the campus of Stetson University.
Lankford Funeral Home is in charge.
“The fact that we do not speak it but sing it only expresses the fact that
our spoken words are inadequate to express what we want to say,
that the burden of our song goes far beyond all human words.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community, 1939.