Former professor of voice Jack Coldiron dies

Alex Sibley
| May 17, 2021

Jack H. Coldiron, distinguished professor of voice at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1963 to 1994, died on May 9. He was three weeks shy of his 95th birthday. 

“Jack Coldiron served at Southwestern Seminary for 31 years, leaving an indelible mark on our School of Church Music and Worship and the multitude of students he taught,” said President Adam W. Greenway. “I urge all Southwesterners to join me in praying for his wife, Donna, and family during this time of great loss.”

Joseph R. Crider, dean of the School of Church Music and Worship, reflected on social media, “I have heard from countless alumni of Dr. Coldiron’s incredible influence on their lives. We certainly stand on his shoulders.”

Jack Haddon Coldiron was born in Kingsport, Tennessee, on May 30, 1926. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, in 1953, and his Master of Church Music at Southwestern Seminary in 1960. He did additional studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas; Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan; the German Center for International Music Education in Stuttgart, Germany; the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London; and the Royal Academy of Music in London. Stetson University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1992. 

Coldiron married Donna Lee Roe in 1957. They had two children, Susanna and Stephen. 

Coldiron’s first teaching position was as professor of voice at Stetson University, where he served from 1954 to 1957, and again from 1960 to 1963, with a two-year stint in the U.S. Army in between. He joined the faculty at Southwestern Seminary in 1963, where he taught for just over three decades. 

Following his retirement in 1994, fellow music school faculty member William J. Reynolds wrote in his history of the School of Church Music and Worship, The Cross and the Lyre, that Coldiron “had a distinguished career as teacher and performer. He is highly esteemed as an oratorio tenor, and has been involved in recitals and concerts in schools and churches each year.”

Reynolds noted that news of Coldiron’s retirement in 1994 was “received with great regret, not only by the music faculty and student body, but by the entire seminary family. His contributions across these 31 years as a teacher, singer, gracious colleague of the faculty, and counselor of students will long be remembered. He is a classic gentleman and friend.”

Chuck T. Lewis, a 1993 Master of Music graduate who now serves as associate dean of the School of Church Music and Worship, said Coldiron “was one of the most phenomenal soloists and vocal pedagogues of his day—his impact spanning multiple generations over two centuries.” 

“As a student at Southwestern in the 1990s,” Lewis said, “I was blessed to be one of the hundreds of students who got to have Dr. Coldiron as their vocal professor. He cared as much about a student’s heart as he did their voice. He was kind, gentle, and always joyful. He was a character-builder, all the while committed to training the voice of students who would go into churches to declare the praise of our great God. His legacy of faithfulness will live on for generations to come.”

Following his retirement, Coldiron was asked to teach at Baylor University in Waco, which he did for the next 20 years. He then served as a visiting professor at TCU in Fort Worth, retiring again in 2016. Upon completing 59 years as a professor of voice, Coldiron reflected in an article published by Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, where he was a longtime member and deacon, that he had led “a very good life.”

Coldiron is survived by his wife of 64 years, Donna, their two children, and two grandchildren.

A celebration of Coldiron’s life will be held at a future date.