January 12, 2023

Alumni Remember Beloved Music Professor Who Taught for 50 Years

Marlene Woodward-Cooper

PBA News

Starting in 1970, Woodward-Cooper taught full-time for 48 years. She continued to teach piano as professor emeritus for another two years.

Woodward-Cooper’s obituary lists the Celebration of Life Service as 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15 at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 1615 Lake Ave., Lake Worth Beach, according to Woodward-Cooper’s obituary.

On the College of the Arts tribute to Woodward-Cooper, PBA alumnus and Chapel Worship Coordinator Zach Drum wrote: “She is truly missed. She taught with such compassion, humour and love, all while setting high expectations for excellence all for the glory of God.”

Alumna Tabitha Meeks wrote: “Wonderful teacher. She held us to higher standards while always being encouraging.”

According to her obituary:

Marlene Woodward-Cooper began studying at age 6 with her father, Josef Sadlon, a professional pianist and organist. She played piano in her church at age 9. She attended the Juilliard Summer School of Music at age 12 and entered the Manhattan School of Music on a full scholarship in 1956. She returned to the Manhattan School of Music in 1960 and earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in piano performance and composition in 1963. Woodward-Cooper completed a Master of Music with a double major in piano performance and music education in 1965.

While still an undergraduate, she was offered a full-time position as a staff accompanist for the Opera and Vocal Performance Departments at the Manhattan School of Music. She studied piano with Marian Morrey, Dora Zaslavsky and Robert Goldsand. She studied composition with Nicolas Flagello, Vittorio Giannini and Ludmilla Ulehla.

When Woodward-Cooper began teaching at Palm Beach Atlantic University in 1970, she immediately became recognized as a tough but caring teacher. She won the respect and adoration of generations of students until her full retirement in 2020. In 1992, Woodward-Cooper earned the Charles & Hazel Corts Award for Outstanding Teaching. She also received the first key to the then-new Vera Lea Rinker Hall.

Woodward-Cooper has been a church pianist at Lakeside Methodist, Lakeside Presbyterian and, since 2001, Our Savior Lutheran in Lake Worth Beach, Florida. She is also a published composer of duets, with her works regularly performed internationally by the Gastesi-Bezerra piano duo. Woodward-Cooper was pre-deceased by two husbands, Horace G. Woodward and Kenneth Cooper. She leaves behind two sons, Robert Woodward and Andrew Woodward, their wives Olena Woodward (Robert) and Madeleine Woodward (Andrew), as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren who will miss her great talent, sharp wit and loving, caring nature.

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