Students preserve late music director’s legacy 

A new endowment fund honors Maquoketa Community High School’s Janice Farnum

A former student has launched an endowment fund with the Community Foundation of Jackson County in honor of the late Janice Farnum, director of choral music at Maquoketa Community High School from 1956 to 1986. The new fund will preserve Farnum’s legacy with an annual gift to the Maquoketa High School Music Department in her name, forever. 

“I think I can speak for many of her former students and say that she impacted us both personally and professionally,” says the former student, who asked to remain anonymous. “She inspired me to use my talents, and because of her, my life has been touched by musical opportunities and experiences.”

Farnum was a member of the Maquoketa Philianthropic Educational Organization (PEO), and a 61-year member of the First United Methodist Church in Maquoketa, where she served as a choir director. She also served as a choir director in Grundy Center, at First Lutheran Church in Maquoketa, and for the Mountain View Estates Men’s Choir in Mesa, Arizona. Additionally, she was an accompanist for the Velda Rose Methodist Church in Mesa. 

Farnum was an educator who opened the door to music to all students, whether they were musically inclined or not, through involvement in choir and musical productions. “She had a very wide impact on the entire school,” says a former student. “I would guess that she involved almost half the student body in music in some way.”

Beloved by her students, Farnum grew the choral program and organized popular annual performances, such as variety shows, Advent Sings and the Madrigal Feaste. Farnum also started a handbell music program that continues in the music department to this day. 

“She left a lasting mark on both her students and the community, which was recognized with her induction into the Maquoketa Hall of Fame in 2016,” says choral director Joel Hagen. “This endowment will help continue her love of music at Maquoketa High School by leaving a lasting contribution to the vocal music program. With these funds, the choral department can continue maintenance and upkeep of the bells that were purchased during her tenure. The funds can also help with the purchase of new music technology, music for ensembles or helping students go to festivals.”

Many who were impacted by Farnum during her lifetime may be moved to give to the Janice Farnum Maquoketa Music Endowment. Gifts can be made online at dbqfoundation.org/farnum or mailed to the Community Foundation at 700 Locust St. Ste. 195, Dubuque, IA 52001. Annual payouts will be directed by the music department toward sheet music, enrichment for students or staff, or other needs as determined to benefit students. 

The Community Foundation of Jackson County partners with individuals, families and organizations to make a lasting impact and improve quality of life for all. To view a complete list of funds that will carry on legacies like Farnum’s, visit dbqfoundation.org/cfjc.

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