Alumna’s legacy makes beautiful music at La Sierra
March 31, 2009
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( www.lasierra.edu )When Julia Park first saw La Sierra University’s new black Steinway concert grand piano, she was smitten. “I played that piano when it arrived then and I just fell in love with it,” said the piano major.
“The instrument has an absolutely gorgeous sound that I was inspired by to make music as beautiful as possible,” she said. Practice and performance on top-quality instruments better prepares students for performance and competition in other venues with nice instruments, said Park. She dreams of performing music throughout her life. “I’ll continue to use this blessing of music for God’s work,” she said.
The late Ardyce Koobs, a 1949 La Sierra music graduate, concert violinist and former Loma Linda mayor understood such dreams. And she understood the necessity of proper instruments and a good education to fulfill them. As such, Koobs’ estate gift to her alma mater included funds for the Steinway concert grand along with a chamber music endowment that will pay for professional guest musicians to perform in a chamber concert series.
On Feb. 12 the La Sierra University Board of Trustees approved the Ardyce and Dick Koobs estate gift of over $300,000 to pay for the Steinway and fund the endowment.
In addition to the generous estate gift, the couple also invested in a charitable gift annuity back in 2001, which gave them a safe and substantial source of income during their lifetimes. In accordance with Ardyce Koobs’s wishes upon her passing, the gift annuity also significantly benefited La Sierra University.
Koobs was a founding member of La Sierra’s board of trustees and a city councilwoman and mayor in Loma Linda. She lived in Loma Linda with her husband, Dick Koobs, professor of pathology at Loma Linda University who passed away in 2006.
The La Sierra music department aims to become an institution that uses only Steinway pianos and receive designation from the noted piano maker as an All-Steinway School.
The department has two concert Steinway grands, thanks in part to the Koobs gift. Two faculty studios and several practice rooms are also outfitted with the celebrated instruments. The school hopes to acquire seven more -- three uprights and four grand pianos.
“It has been my dream to see us having top-notch instruments for our students and faculty to use and perform with. I know that for me, having a refined piano made a lasting difference in my progress and career. …as faculty, we are inspired to perform at a higher level due to the response and quality of the instruments,” said Elvin Rodríguez, La Sierra’s director of keyboard studies.
An all-Steinway music school will place La Sierra in league with the Cleveland Institute of Music, The Juilliard School of Music in Manhattan and other well-known music education venues that use Steinways, Rodríguez said.
As a violinist, Koobs performed with the Pasadena, Riverside and Redlands symphonies and taught hundreds of violin students. She also played violin with the Loma Linda University Church Sanctuary Orchestra and helped start the Southern California Young Artists Symphony.
A third-generation Seventh-day Adventist from Minnesota, Koobs made her mark in Loma Linda as an aggressive, caring community advocate. She worked actively on a committee that led Loma Linda’s charge to incorporation, a goal it reached in 1970. She then served on Loma Linda’s council from March 1974 to April 1990 and functioned as its first female mayor between May 1980 and April 1986. In January 2007 the Loma Linda Chamber of Commerce recognized Koobs as Citizen of the Year. She passed away May 16, 2008 following a brief illness.
Koobs’ estate gift was in keeping with her patronage of La Sierra and with her generous spirit. “I’m not surprised at all. She was a big supporter of La Sierra. Both of us were,” said La Sierra alum T. Milford Harrison, a former Loma Linda city councilman, mayor and economic development director. He served on the council 12 years with Koobs.
As a politician, Koobs proved a formidable but considerate opponent. “She was a lady at all times. She pushed for her position but she was kind about it, and convincing,” Harrison said. Koobs argued to maintain Loma Linda’s open spaces, which now totals 2,000 acres, and supported a fire station addition as long as it included space for a museum of city memorabilia, Harrison recalled.
“She had no hidden passion [for politics], it was just that she was the kind that was very matter of fact – here’s a problem, this needs to be done. The rest of us would say the same thing, but we’d stop there. She would go ahead and do it and if it took a long time it didn’t hurt. That was a real gift she had,” said Joan Coggin, a long-time friend who roomed above Koobs at La Sierra University. It was called La Sierra College during their tenure.
Coggin and four of Koob’s friends met recently for lunch at a Redlands restaurant where they recounted memories of their long-time pal who several had known since their days at La Sierra. Dorothy Becker, Francee Yaeger, Joan Du Nesme and Lu Shasky, all La Sierra alumni along with Coggin, remembered their musical friend and her causes that ranged from recycling trash and killing weeds along neighborhood streets to taking in medical students and foster children in need of a home.
“She also cared for all her aged relatives,” mothers, aunts and others, willingly giving up much of her free time in the process, Du Nesme said. “She always was a generous person.”
“Rooming with Ardyce was a hoot,” Yaeger said. She and Koobs roomed together between 1949 and 1950 at Orlando House near White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles. Koobs worked as a secretary while Yaeger took classes. Around that time, Koobs met her future husband who was a medical student. The couple married in 1955 and the following year Dick Koobs entered residency training at White Memorial.
Yaeger recalled an old Model A car Koobs acquired while at Orlando House. Koobs dubbed the aging, rattling, noisy vehicle Cleopatra, Cleo for short. In a letter to her family, Koobs described in lengthy detail the day she picked up Cleo in Glendale from her relatives’ house, with the assistance of Yaeger and Du Nesme. “So Joan and I pushed Cleo out into the street while Frankie [Francee] guided her. After passing through Aunt Edna’s flower beds a couple of times we were at last successful in our attempts to place Cleo on the hill in order to get her started,” Koobs wrote.
“Cleo was a concern of her parents, my parents and all of the medical school combined,” Yaeger joked.
Around 1965, Koobs began pushing for Loma Linda’s incorporation as a city. “She was a big mover,” said Coggin, also a Loma Linda resident. “She had a vision and realized it was a growing place and it couldn’t walk along like a village.”
In 1974 Coggin and Koobs squared off against each other in their first races for Loma Linda City Council. Coggin recruited a campaign manager and three student assistants from Loma Linda Academy, rented a trailer for campaign headquarters, placed yard placards and handed out bumper stickers. But Koobs won by a landslide, a victory claimed through simple grassroots campaigning. “It wasn’t a question of whether she won and I lost. It was just a massacre,” Coggin said. “She would knock on doors and talk to people and I just waited for people to talk to me.”
A caring heart
During the 1980s, Du Nesme, Yaeger and Koobs began getting together for birthday celebrations. Over time, the group’s numbers grew to include Becker, Coggin, Shasky, Margie Venden and Joan Harding. Becker, Du Nesme and Yaeger took Koobs to Oak Glen to celebrate her birthday during the group’s early years. “It didn’t get celebrated enough. She was always doing for others,” Becker said.
“Everybody loved Ardyce. …Any favor you asked of her, she’d do for you,” Yaeger said.
For a memorial service last September honoring the violinist’s life, Coggin and Calvin Hanson, Koobs’ brother, composed a biography of Koobs, describing with anecdotal detail her talent, kindness and advocacy. “If each of us were to try to live a bit better and take on just a fraction of her wonderful attributes,” Coggin wrote, “ …maybe we can contribute to her legacy and maybe then we will not miss her quite so very much.”
Leave your own legacy
Because the U.S. Congress plans to push estate taxes back up--way up—next year, right now would be a good time to discuss estate tax-reduction options with your professional tax advisors.
There are several ways to take advantage of current tax laws to maximize the size of your estate and the return on your investments, while at the same time reducing risk, and enhancing your legacy as well as benefiting La Sierra University. Here are a few examples:
Charitable Gift Annuity. A charitable gift annuity can double or even triple your investment return, while allowing you to take a generous current tax deduction and eliminate the risk of ongoing market fluctuations.
Charitable Remainder Trust. A charitable remainder trust can reduce your income and estate taxes, let you sell what you put in the trust with no capital gains taxes, and allow more of your estate to be passed to your family instead of the government.
Deferred Gift Annuity. A deferred gift annuity allows you to eliminate the market risk of an asset you own, receive a current tax deduction for it, and earn a guaranteed income in the future when you will need it.
If you have any questions on the new taxes, or on ways to avoid them and reduce risk at the same time, please give me a call.
-- Jay Du Nesme
(951) 785-2160 – direct line
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University