Ursula passed into God’s keeping on 11 February, 2019. Born in Victoria on 25 January 1921, Ursula was the youngest in a close-knit family who predeceased her, as did her beloved husband, Hugh O. Thomas. Ursula earned a Licentiate of the Royal School of Music and performed as a solo pianist and accompanist with the CBC; many fans will remember her as ‘Paulie’ on the School Broadcasts. While teaching singing, organ, and piano at Jericho Hill Provincial School for the Blind, Ursula established, directed and accompanied Canada’s first blind children’s choir.

She was the official accompanist for the Vancouver School Board and was appointed Adjudicator for choral and instrumental competitions held across B.C.  Ursula also accompanied tenor Richard Margison during his formative years.

Ministry through music characterized Ursula’s commitment to worship as Music Director and/or Accompanist with church choirs in Vancouver (Chown Memorial United, Dunbar United) and Victoria (Metropolitan United, First United, St. Luke’s Anglican, Cadboro Bay United, St. Paul’s United in Sidney). Ursula was also Staff Organist and Music Director at McCall Bros. Funeral Chapel for more than 20 years.

Community performers in Vancouver (The Clef Society of Burnaby, Kiwanis Glee Club of Vancouver, Theatre Under the Stars) and Victoria (A Cappella/Crystal Singers, Arion Male Voice Choir, Summer Singers) benefitted from Ursula’s adroit accompaniment at rehearsals and in concerts held in B.C. and the U.S.A.

In 2009, the British Columbia Choral Federation presented Ursula with The Joyce O. Maguire Award, in recognition of her outstanding long-term service as a choral accompanist. In 2011, Ursula received a Life Membership from the Arion Male Voice Choir, which she accompanied for more than 25 years.

Ursula (Ursie) was a gifted musician, composer, and poet with a quick wit and warm heart. She will be sorely missed by her extended family of friends.

A Celebration of Life will be held in the Sequoia Centre at McCall Gardens, 4665 Falaise Drive in Victoria on Monday, February 25, 2019 at 2:00 pm.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Mustard Seed http://mustardseed.ca  would be appreciated.

Condolences may be offered below.

McCall Gardens
www.mccallgardens.com

 

  • Mary Kyle
    February 25, 2019

    My tribute to Ursula has in it the memories and love of not only myself, but the voices of my parents… Don and Ruth Kyle. How do I summarize a lifetime? How do I express my/our love for Ursie? How do I express her impact? Her legacy? In doing so, I decided to pick one word to describe her and her influence on me. That word is ‘consummate’.
    At the beginning of their lifelong friendship, she and Mom and Dad worked together as studio musicians on CBC Vancouver in the 1940s and 50s. At that time, the work they did was all live. Performing ‘live’ on radio requires a level of ability that few have. Ursula thrived as the accompanist/performer as her prodigious skill was considerable as you all know. She could play any piece of music, in any key, in any style. She could also improvise. Not all musicians have the skill to truly ‘improvise’ as it requires an in-depth understanding of the composition as well as the skill to do so.
    An example of Ursula’s consummate skill is the story of the escaping score.
    If you sang with Ursula, then you know how she felt about turning her pages of music on the piano. She and Dad were performing a solo and they were part way through it, at a page turn. Of course that page turn was a held high note for Dad. Urs was turning her own pages (as she was want to do) and as she flipped the unattached inner page, it took flight……across the studio to the opposite corner. The crew in the production booth apparently nearly fainted, as in those good old days, with the expectations of precise live radio timing being so important, directors of programs were docked pay for ‘dead air time’ by the second.
    As Dad held the note and chased the score across the room, Ursie improvised the piano accompaniment until the page was returned to its place. She then continued with the score and adjusted the speed of the piece to perfectly fit the predetermined amount of performance time. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
    Ursula was a consummate musician, woman and friend. She taught me so many things…..how to laugh, how to entertain, how to dress, how to be gracious, how to ‘be a musician and most of all, how to be a friend and how to love.
    Thank you Ursie…..

  • Christine, David, John, Patrick, Annie and James Lee
    February 19, 2019

    Dear Ursula,

    We are sorry you have gone. Missing our lunches and phone chats. But we know our Heavenly Father has a piano and an organ set out just for you and Dawn is there with her angel’s voice. Our sincerest condolences to your family and friends on their loss.

  • Mary Kyle
    February 17, 2019

    Such a sad, sad loss. I love you Ursula and will miss you every day.

  • robert Neufeld
    February 16, 2019

    Dear Ursula: I shall miss you very much. No more visits and talks and much laughter. Thank you for sharing your music with me and allowing me to be part of your life. You were a very rare person who cared, loved and laughed. Love you to the moon and back. I shall miss our lunch dates. Much love, Robert.

  • Ken Sargeant
    February 15, 2019

    I always appreciated your support and extensive knowledge of the Arion Male voice Choir during my terms as President. I am proud to have been one of your “men”.

  • Joy Preston
    February 15, 2019

    I was very fortunate to have this lovely lady as my piano teacher and church choir director when I was just a young teen. She made music lessons fun. She lived in Sidney then, and she traveled to Vancouver each week to play for the CBC so she gave me the job of feeding and walking her beloved little dog on my way home from school. Some years later, we were also blessed to have her accompany us on the organ at our wedding.
    She was very talented, a great teacher, and a woman with a huge smile and a heart of compassion who will be warmly remembered.

  • Sherri Bunt
    February 15, 2019

    Auntie Ursie, such a lovely lady. I will miss your cards and poems. Rest peacfully dear.

    Love Sherri Bunt

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