Published in The Washington Post on June 2, 2013
EDWARD PRESTON (Age 86) Of Sterling House in La Crosse, WI peacefully left
this earth for Life Eternal on April 22, 2013.
John was born in Washington, DC on September 19, 1926 to E. Donald and Louesa
(Youngs) Preston. He had a happy and adventurous childhood in Cheverly, MD, during
which time lasting friendships were born through church and community. A bugler cadet
at Eastern High School (1944) in DC, John joined the Naval Air Corps after
graduating. His military service took him to Duke University, Texas, Florida, California,
Following WWII, John earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Music Education
and Composition from Catholic U., sang in the Cathedral Choral Society at the
Washington National Cathedral, and was active in Washington musical life.
In 1949 John married Lenore "Lynn" Jacobsen, a soprano in the choir at First
Congregational, his family church in DC. The couple moved to Rockville, Maryland in
1950, where John was hired as organist-choirmaster at Christ Church, Episcopal. John
also obtained a job teaching band at Richard Montgomery Jr.-Sr. H.S., where he later
took over the choral position. His teaching career as a choir director spanned 33 years
at both Richard Montgomery and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High Schools, and included a
4-year tenure as president of the Maryland State Choral Director's Association. He left
a legacy of excellent choral music and devoted students, who greatly enjoyed the many
concerts, musicals, and operettas which he directed. Favorite events also included
exchange choir trips with other east coast schools, and extra-curricular John's
unswerving commitment to his students was matched by their enthusiasm and their
appreciation for his kindness and sense of humor.
At Christ Church in Rockville, John was a pillar of leadership through his 43 years of
service as organist-choirmaster. His music ministry encompassed outstanding
liturgi-cal music with several choirs, bell choirs, and many concerts of major sacred
choral works with professional orchestral players and soloists. One such highlight was a
production of Britten's Noye's Fludde, which involved the talents of many church
members. In the early years he assisted with Gilbert and Sullivan productions at the
church. He also wrote compositions for his beloved Senior Choir, of which his wife was
a member; and he formed lifelong bonds with the parish, whose affection and
commitment he deeply appreciated.
After retiring from his teaching and church posts, John greatly enjoyed a tenure of 10
years as conductor of the Encore Singers, an adult singing group which originated as
alumni from the Montgomery County Schools choral program. Their concerts included
performances at the Mormon Temple, National Cathedral, National Gallery of Art, and
the White House. Music and friendships of this period further enriched John's life, as
did interim organ/choir posts in the area. John composed music throughout his career,
some of which was published and won recognition.
He was a family camping enthusiast, an avid golf fan, and a regular follower of sports
and news. Other interests included building model airplanes, home improvement
projects, and writing verses to songs for special events of family and friends.
In 1999, John and Lynn experienced the heartbreaking loss of their oldest child, Kathryn
Anne Kirkpatrick, for whom they cared throughout her battle with brain cancer. John was
also preceded in death by his beloved wife Lynn in 2004, and dear sister Margaret in
He is survived by the following loving family: daughter Pamela (Terence) Kelly, son
Richard (Amy) Preston; grandchildren Stephen, Patricia (Justin), Matthew, Jonathan,
Tara, Kyle, Maureen, Irene, and William; sister Barbara Hayes; brother in-law Don
(Susan) Aronson; and nieces, nephews, and cousins.
In 2008, John moved to La Crosse, WI near his daughter, Pamela, where he
maintained a zest for life despite the challenges of being on dialysis and living far from
his home of 81 years. He enjoyed the scenic upper midwest, the new friends he made,
and the many concerts he attended in the region, as well as special family visits. John
made several trips back east, including a trip on the Freedom Honor Flight. He loved to
spend time with family and friends throughout his life, and always expressed genuine
interest and pride in them.
A Memorial-Funeral Service for John will take place on Saturday, June 15, 11 a.m. at
Christ Church, Episcopal in Rockville, MD, 107 S. Washington St., officiated by the
Rev. John McDuffie.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Christ Church, Rockville or the
Montgomery County Schools Choral Music program.