As a teacher, it can sometimes be hard to know the effect you’ve had on students, to know how you may have changed lives or whether your example really mattered. But in the case of James Lamberson, a professor in the Department of Music from 1966 to 1982 and chair of the department for 10 years, there is no question. Hundreds of students had studied the organ under his tutelage, gotten to know him through his music ministries at Northwood Christian Church, and come to respect him as a mentor and friend.
Jim Lamberson passed away on New Year’s Day in 1983, but his legacy continues in a special way. Friends and family have launched the James P. Lamberson Memorial Fund, providing scholarships to help music majors pursue an organ and church music concentration.
Lamberson’s goal of educating future musicians recently took a big step forward, thanks to an $80,000 gift from the estate of Marilyn J. Apt. Marilyn Apt, a friend of Lamberson’s who passed away in August 2010, had set aside money for the James P. Lamberson Memorial Fund.
Though she was never a student of his, she did want to honor him as a mentor and friend. Her gift will significantly increase scholarships for students studying the organ and pursuing a deeper understanding of sacred music. For those who were fortunate enough to have had Lamberson as a teacher, their memories of him are just as meaningful and special.
“He was such a kind man and a friend to all of us,” says Sue (Hilgeman) Dykes ’76, a music education major and longtime teacher. “He was always encouraging and supporting his students. He was the kind of teacher that a student strives to do their best for. It was obvious that he was a very special person and touched many lives at the University.”
Classmate and organ major Ken Granger ’77 agrees. “Even though I ended up not teaching music, I know I’m a better musician and my life is richer because of the person he was,” he says. “In many ways, I think that’s the greatest gift someone can receive from another person. He was such a gentle soul and was an incredibly gifted musician and educator.”
After Lamberson’s death, his good friend and fellow faculty member Gerald Boyce (who passed away in 1999) eulogized him in an article for the alumni magazine. “It would be difficult,” he wrote, “to evaluate Jim’s influence and estimate his impact on our campus and our community; those things really can’t be measured.
“What can be said of this man and stated without reservation,” Boyce wrote, “is that he was totally committed to his assigned and assumed responsibilities. Within and without his professional world he established a reputation for being a man of integrity. “Professor Lamberson was dedicated to his teaching and his students and was a highly respected member of the campus faculty.”
The Memorial Fund scholarship program is designed to ensure that students will be able to find employment as church musicians and pursue graduate studies in the field. Many students already are active in their churches, so the goal of this program is to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of the diverse body of sacred music, from the era of Gregorian chant until the present. —Jennifer L. Huber ’07
If you wish to honor the memory of a mentor or leave your own legacy, creating a scholarship fund is a great way to help future generations of UIndy scholars. A bequest is the most popular charitable vehicle but is only one of many ways to accomplish your philanthropic goals. For information, contact Andy Kocher ’98 at a email@example.com, (317) 788-3493, 1-800-232-8634.