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Robert N. HamAugust 27, 1954 ~ February 12, 2016 (age 61)
MISHAWAKA – Robert (Bob) N. Ham (61), of Mishawaka, passed away Friday, February 12th, in the comfort of his home with his devoted wife, Marilynn, by his side. Bob was born August 27, 1954, in the town of Logansport, Indiana, but lived much of his childhood in Escanaba, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After completing undergraduate and graduate degrees in music at Northern Michigan University, Bob moved with Marilynn to Wisconsin to begin what would become his life’s mission, purpose and accomplishment – molding and shaping the lives of young people through music. Bob’s love of music was evident, and his skill and expertise in his craft led him to the collegiate level: first, at Barclay University (formerly Friends Bible College) in Haviland, Kansas, and then, for the last 25 years, at Bethel College in Mishawaka as choir director, professor, and Chair of Music.
Bob’s work at Bethel began in a small, two-room house on-campus. His first choirs performed in the science building and in Goodman Gymnasium. Through Bob’s tenure at Bethel, and with enduring and unwavering support from university faculty, administration, and patrons, Bethel’s music program expanded exponentially. The Bethel Choir, under Bob’s direction, earned national and international acclaim and recognition; however, the mission of the choir was not to bring glory to itself, but rather, to glorify, honor, and praise God Almighty. To this end, Bob’s professional career was devoted in its entirety. He loved his work, a sentiment evidenced by the perpetual smile etched across his face during rehearsals and performances, patently obvious to those privileged enough to sing under his direction. He leaves Bethel as an awardee of the distinguished title of Professor Emeritus.
Bob was a gifted church musician, serving for 20 years as the music pastor at Clay United Methodist Church in South Bend. Under Bob’s direction, the Clay Choir sang weekly anthems, staged yearly cantatas, and performed nationally at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Many Clay Choir members were among Bob’s dearest friends, and their love for him shined brightly through even the most difficult of times.
At his passing, he leaves his loving wife Marilynn, two children, Norris (Angela) Ham and Meryl (Justin) Masterson, and five grandchildren. His mother, Louraine Ham of Escanaba, Michigan, also survives him, along with his brother, John (Jack) Ham, and sister-in-law Karen, and his sister, Laurel Moon. Bob was preceded in death by his father, also named Robert (Bob) Ham.
Bob’s undying message to his family, friends, colleagues, students, and to all who loved him, was set to music 275 years ago by the German composer Handel: Comfort ye. Your warfare is accomplished. The glory of the Lord is revealed. O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, ARISE! Say unto the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” For unto us a Child is born, a son is given, and His name is Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is the righteous Savior, and He shall speak peace. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men. The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever – King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. HALLELUJAH!
Arrangements are under the care and direction of the Palmer Funeral Home-River Park, 2528 Mishawaka Ave., South Bend. Visitation will be held from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 at Clay Church, 52866 North Ironwood Rd, South Bend. Services celebrating Bob’s life will be at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21, in the Everest-Rohrer Auditorium on Bethel’s campus.
Expressions of sympathy on Bob’s behalf may be offered to the Bethel College Music Department, 1001 Bethel Circle, Mishawaka, IN 46545. Online condolences to the family may be sent to www.palmerfuneralhomes.com
Bethel College Music Department
1001 Bethel Circle, Mishawaka IN 46545