William Preston Stedman

William Preston Stedman, Dean of the Conservatory of Music from 1966-1976

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In Memoriam-Preston Stedman, former Conservatory dean

Jul 20, 2012

William Preston Stedman, Feb. 10, 1923  -Mar. 31, 2012

Preston Stedman (89) passed away peacefully at the Fullerton Gardens Nursing Home surrounded by his family. Originally from Austin, Texas, Stedman earned his BA and MM in music from Texas Christian University and served two years in the US Navy. He went on to earn a PhD from Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. As a child he played the violin taking up the viola while at TCU. He taught at Sul Ross State College in Alpine, TX, and Indiana University and became Music Department chair at Texas College of Arts and Industries in Kingsville, Texas.

He moved to Stockton in 1966 Stedman to serve as Dean of the Conservatory of Music at the University of the Pacific. At Pacific, he increased the enrollment at the Conservatory by almost three fold, attracting many talented students including renowned soprano Linda Watson. In 1971 he married Leslie Clark McNeill.

After 10 years as dean, he left Pacific in 1976 to take the position of Chairman of the Music Department at California State University at Fullerton, where he was instrumental in the founding of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. He became a board member of the PSO and, later, a member of the executive board. Stedman went back to his first love which was teaching at CSUF.  After he retired in 1999, he often said that he missed being around the students the most. He conducted research on the Japanese symphony and is the author of "The Symphony" (Prentice-Hall 1992, 2nd Ed.), "The Symphony - A Research and Information Guide: The Eighteenth Century" (Garland, 1990) and "Introduction to Stylistic Theory," 3 vols. (CSUF, 1984-5). He also contributed program notes for the PSO and a series of lectures/previews of the San Francisco Symphony concerts while in Stockton.

Throughout his life, Stedman was active in many professional organization, including Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Music Teachers National Association, Association of California Symphony Orchestras and the California Arts Council. He loved the mountains, especially Yosemite, and spent many summers camping and hiking out of Tuolumne Meadows. He also spent time backpacking with his wife and children. Stedman is survived by his wife of 40 years, his sons Preston and Alex, his stepson Rob McNeill and stepdaughter Kate McNeill Hicks and five grandchildren. He will be remembered for his love of teaching, his devotion to his students, his enthusiasm, his wonderful sense of humor and quick wit. He had a wide range of interests and a joy of living life to its fullest.

A small memorial service will be held in Tuolumne Meadows on August 11. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that, those wishing to do so, make donations to the Yosemite Conservancy in his name.