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John Allen Ditto dead at 78

May 19, 2023
John Allen Ditto
John Allen Ditto

John Allen Ditto died March 9. He was born February 12, 1945, in Kansas City, Missouri. At the age three he showed great interest in the piano and was taught by Pauline Chaney and Lucille Hoover of Plattsburg. Beginning at age nine and continuing through high school years, he studied piano at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music, with organ lessons beginning in 1961.

After graduating from Plattsburg High School in 1963, Ditto went on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree in organ and church music from Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. In 1969 he earned his Master of Music degree in organ and sacred music from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. From 1969 until 1972 he was director of music for First Presbyterian Church, Evansville, Indiana. In 1972 he began his Doctoral of Musical Arts degree studies at Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York.

After completing his doctorate, he returned to Missouri as assistant professor of organ, piano, and music history at Central Methodist University, Fayette, and organist at Linn Memorial United Methodist Church on campus from 1975 to 1982. In 1982 he began teaching at the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory of Music, a position he held until his retirement in 2015. During this time Ditto served as organist/music director at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City. He was a member of St. Paul’s Church and continued to be involved after his retirement.

Throughout his career Ditto played numerous recitals throughout the country and was an artist with Phyllis Stringham Concert Management. He was an active member of the Kansas City chapter of the American Guild of Organists, attending and performing at conventions and pedagogy conferences. During summer months, Ditto spent time on Lopez Island, Washington, where he was organist at Grace Episcopal Church.

Upon retirement Ditto volunteered at the Kansas City Free Health Clinic and St. Luke’s Hospital. He also served as chairman of the program committee on the UMKC Retirees Association Board. He was a lector and chalice bearer at Bishop Spencer Place, where he resided the final year of his life.

John Allen Ditto is survived by his sister Mary Alice (Larry) Roberts, nephew Zach (Ashley) Nelson, and his great-nieces, Lilly and Sylvie Nelson, all of Plattsburg, Missouri. Services were held April 16 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City. Former students Shelly Moorman-Stahlman and Robert L. Bozeman played prelude and postlude, all pieces learned as students with Ditto. St. Paul’s Choir sang movements from Durufle’s Requiem at the Holy Eucharist service. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for the music program (stpaulskcmo.org), to the American Guild of Organists, New Organist Scholarship Fund in memory of John Ditto (agohq.org), or to John A. Ditto Memorial Music Scholarship, P. O. Box 136, Plattsburg, Missouri 64477.

—Robert L. Bozeman, and Shelly Moorman-Stahlman


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