George and Jeanne Lewis Endowed Voice Scholarship

The George and Jeanne Lewis Voice Scholarship is music to the ears of students at the University of Montana School of Music.

While attending UM, George earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music. He also met his future wife, Mary Jeanne Ballentine, who was also a music student and an accomplished pianist.

KJ OlsenGeorge and Jeanne spent their early careers teaching in Helena and then in Havre, at Northern Montana College. After spending some time polishing teaching skills in New York City and spending a summer in France, George accepted a position at the UM School of Music in the fall of 1959. George, Jeanne and their two children, Clifton and Carolyn, moved to Missoula and made the city their home. George taught at UM until his retirement in 1985.

Memorial contributions in George’s name, in addition to pledges by Clifton, Carolyn and son-in-law, Tom Browder, have elevated the scholarship to an endowed fund, meaning it will be awarded every year for years to come.

“The original purpose of the scholarship, which was established by the School of Music, was to encourage student participation in the Missoula Symphony Chorale,” Carolyn Lewis says. “My father was the founding director of the Chorale.”
In addition to founding and directing the Chorale, George was a frequent soloist for the Missoula Symphony and taught numerous voice students. He also directed a number of UM musical productions at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse for several seasons.

Jeanne accompanied George on the piano for more than 30 years, including his time with the Missoula Mendelssohn Club.

Carolyn and Clifton are happy that the George and Jeanne Lewis Endowed Voice Scholarship will exist in perpetuity, keeping her parents’ names and memory in the fabric of the School of Music.

“It represents their legacy at the school where they were both educated and where they both taught,” Clifton says.

Pictured: KJ Olsen, scholarship recipient for academic years 2010-11 and 2011-12.