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MORGANTON, N.C. – James W. Mohorn of Johnston, SC passed away on December 3 at Grace Ridge Retirement Community in Morganton, NC after a long illness.
Mr. Mohorn was born in Enfield,NC, son of Ethel Lewis Mohorn and Wilbur Gray Mohorn. He began playing the piano at five years old and throughout elementary and high school he learned to play instruments such as the trombone, clarinet, tuba and trumpet. He graduated from Enfield High School and attended Mars Hill College and Wake Forest University, where he graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Music Education. He later earned a Masters Degree in Music Education from Appalachian State University. In 1959, he accepted his first teaching position in Andrews, SC. He began their first marching band program, teaching music in a condemned gymnasium at the school. His first band consisted of approximately 12 students, and the band program rapidly grew. In August of 1960, Jim married his college sweetheart, Ellen Patricia Gay. Their son Lewis was born in November 1961. The couple then adopted a daughter, Lisa, in April 1967.
Mr. Mohorn accepted the role of instrumental music teacher and band director at Strom Thurmond High School in 1966, a position that he held until his retirement in 1989. He also taught middle school band at several area schools. He began Strom Thurmond’s first jazz ensemble and developed a strong concert band program. During his tenure, the band grew to well over 100 students and earned numerous awards and trophies at marching competitions. They represented the state of South Carolina in three Presidential Inaugural Parades. The band marched at Disney World several times, the 1982 World’s Fair, and the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Mr. Mohorn was a beloved teacher and band director. His legacy of dedication to music excellence and teaching with patience and gentleness lives on in the band program at Strom Thurmond. Since his retirement, two of his former students, Barry Wash and Van Clark, have filled the role of band director at Strom Thurmond High School. This is a telling tribute to their former director.
For over twenty years, Mr. Mohorn was also the choir director at Johnston United Methodist Church. He brought joy and laughter to his choir members during rehearsals, which often resulted in unexpected mirth and mischief. His impish sense of humor led one choir member to state that Wednesday night choir rehearsal was his weekly therapy session. Mr. Mohorn loved to praise God through his music ministry. His church family meant much to him.
Mr. Mohorn was predeceased by his parents Wilbur Gray Mohorn and Ethel Lewis Mohorn Drye, stepfather Homer Lee Drye, and step granddaughter Darla Humphreys. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Pat; children Lewis and wife Susie Mohorn of Signal Mtn, TN and Lisa and husband Scott Crimminger of Fort Mill, SC; brother Tim and wife Lynda Drye of Clayton, NC; sister-in-law Carol and husband Jerry Cantor of Boise, Idaho; brother-in law Jerry Gay and partner John Owen of Winston Salem, NC; step grandaughter Melody Hood of Tennessee; grandchildren Megan, Jordan and Danielle Crimminger of Fort Mill, SC; step great grandchildren Isabel Williams, Sam Hood, and Hailey Humphreys of Tennessee; niece Brittany Drye of North Carolina; niece Dara Cantor of Portland, Oregon; great nephew Benton Cox of North Carolina.
Arrangements are being handled by Sossoman Funeral Home. A private family drop-in will be held on Saturday, December 8 at Grace Ridge Retirement Community. Planning has begun to hold a special music program to celebrate his life at an upcoming date in 2013 in Johnston, SC. At that time, the family will come together with friends and former students and choir members to share memories through music. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to: St. Jude Children’s Hospital P.O. Box 50 Memphis, TN 38101-9929