Jean Claire Hart, 90, renowned musician, educator, mentor, colleague, and cherished friend, died on September 26, 2020 in Brandon, Florida. She was born in Crestline, Ohio on November 30, 1929 to Theodore and Annabell (Hartman) Hoffman of Winter Haven, FL. She will long be remembered by the thousands of students, colleagues, and friends whose lives she touched and who were made to feel part of her family in her more than five-decade career in music and education in the Brandon community.
Ms. Hart spent her life devoted to her first love: the violin. In first grade, she began taking violin lessons. When her family moved, no violin teacher was available; therefore, she traveled by train every Saturday from Crestline to Cleveland, Ohio to study. As a junior attending the New Albany High School at age 16; she won the instrumental solo audition to appear as violin soloist with the Louisville Philharmonic Orchestra. She performed the Andante Cantabile from Nardini’s E Minor Violin Concerto. In 1953, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education from Ohio Wesleyan University and was a member of Alpha Tau Omega.
The first twelve years of her career in Hillsborough County; she worked as an elementary music specialist that began at Dover Elementary school. She wrote the beginning string curriculum ‘Nuts and Bolts’ for the elementary string program for music teachers to use in their general music classes. During her 27-year tenure, she conducted the orchestra at Burns, McLane and Brandon Middle/High Schools. She put together and conducted a group of Brandon junior and high school string players known as the Strolling Strings. She believed performing gave students confidence, practicing instills self-discipline to develop abilities, and attributes that they will use throughout their lives. She helped to organize and served as president of the Hillsborough County American String Teachers Association (FL-ASTA) from 1998-2000. She was also chairman of Junior High All-State Orchestra and co-chairman of the all-county Junior High Orchestra, and an active member of Florida Orchestra Association. After retirement—when most people might slow down, she continued to teach violin, viola and cello lessons at her Suzuki music studio until 2014.
God led her to a life-long commitment of sharing music with students, young and old, and on an individual basis. Along with her love for the violin, she has been involved most of her life in church music. Her involvements in church music range from choir member to choir director, from soloist to director of music, from handbell to tone chimes director, etc. Her diverse musical experience includes theater and music productions, specifically, First United Methodist Church of Brandon one-act opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors;” Village Players production of “Arsenic and Old Lace;” and Brandon Community Chorus, a local string quartet that played chamber music for their friends. She accomplished a lot during her 90 years, leaving an indelible mark on her family, friends, and students, and audiences.
She is survived by many musicians and friends who supported her throughout her life and decline. A heartfelt gratitude goes to Alley and Jennifer (Ron) Pauley, the Robinson family; Marilyn Lash; Teri & RJ Locke; Aunt June Hoffman, Cousin Greg Gardner, Eddie White and Tai Chi members (Marie Pound, Joan Phillips, Norma Harris, Dee Nolin and Carolyn Sheffield) for their steadfast strength and devotion.
She is survived by her devoted daughter, Carol Gwen Hart; youngest son, David Hoffman Hart; and grandson, Hunter Ian Hart. She is also survived by grandchildren: Michael Hart, Ashley (Jason) Muller, Samantha (David) Eisenberg and Monique (Martin) Torres; and great-grandchildren: Abram Ellick, Trent and Autumn Eisenberg, Shailyn Lily Torres, Aliana Julia Torres, David Asher Muller, Ariel Jade Muller, Savannah-Brooke Hart, Sarah Nicole Hart, and Aiden Michael Hart.
She is preceded in death by her son, Wilmer Donald (Bill) Hart, III, of New Port Richey, FL; parents; her brothers, Dr. Jack Roland Hoffman of Phoenix, AZ and Col. Richard H. Hoffman of Byron, GA; and sister, Carol Ann Hardin of Jacksonville, FL.
The music celebration of Jean’s life will be held at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 2913 John Moore Road, Brandon, FL. Jean will be buried at a “private” memorial ceremony at Lakeside Memorial Park in Winter Haven, FL. Arrangements are under the direction and care of the Heath Funeral Chapel where condolences may be expressed at www.heathfuneralchapel.com. In lieu of flowers, please pay it forward in Jean’s name in a random act of kindness.