Melvin Stanley Yeo of White Rock, B.C. passed away quietly on Tuesday July 23, 2002 from complications resulting from Parkinson’s disease.
Melvin Yeo was born on April 21, 1909 in Cypress River, Manitoba, the only child of Violet Mabel (nee Bishop) and Franklin Yeo, a carpenter. As a boy, Mel showed tremendous musical talent and studied piano and organ. After his Dad’s death, he and his mother moved to Winnipeg where he found many opportunities to put his talents to use, performing in concert tours around small town Manitoba and for a brief time even accompanying silent movies.
It was in Winnipeg that he met Agnes Arbuckle, a young contralto from Crystal City, Manitoba. They made wonderful music together and were married in Crystal City on August 28, 1943. Mel was soon much in demand as a church organist and choir master.
He shared his love of sacred music with many congregations from Ontario to B.C. including: Chalmers United, Winnipeg; St. Andrews, Yorkton; 5th Avenue United, Medicine Hat; Westminster United, Regina; Trinity United, Smith Falls; Dominion United, Ottawa; Fourth Avenue Baptist, Ottawa; Southminster United, Ottawa; Church of the Holy Trinity, White Rock.
Mel’s other passion was teaching; from the Regina Conservatory to the Hull, Quebec and Eastview (now Vanier) Ontario primary schools, he opened the world of music to thousands of children. He brought the methods of Carl Orf’s pioneering work in music education to the Ottawa area, and his school and church choirs graced the stages of many music festivals around the country.
Even after his retirement in 1974, he continued to give lessons and to fill the air with gladness at services, weddings and funerals. He was able to give a marvelous organ recital on his 80th birthday and another when he and Agnes renewed their vows on their 50th wedding anniversary.
In the last years, however, Parkinson’s finally put a stop to the music. His last months were spent in the kind and gentle care of the staff at the Peace Arch Hospital’s Weatherby Pavillion. He leaves his loving wife Agnes and daughter Margaret and many, many friends.
Services were held on Monday, July 29 at 2:00 p.m., Church of the Holy Trinity, 15115 Roper Avenue, White Rock.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Parkinson’s Society of Canada, 4211 Yonge Street, suite 316, Toronto, Ontario. M2P 2A9.
“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”