Molly Jessup-Austin

Molly Jessup-Austin, 66, of Raytown, MO, passed away Sunday, March 15, 2009. Memorial Services will be Thursday, March 19, 11 a.m., at All Soul’s Unitarian Church, 4501 Walnut, Kansas City, MO. 64111, 816-531- 2131. Molly was born February 10, 1943, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kansas City. She attended Blue Ridge Elementary School and graduated from Raytown High School in 1961. Molly received her B.A. in Music at UMKC in 1966, and pursued her Masters degree in vocal performance there in the 1970’s. A lifelong musician, Molly was the resident music director and teacher of applied voice in the Music Theatre program at the UMKC Conservatory. She was also an Adjunct Professor of Graduate Theater Studies at UMKC, teaching voice and music theatre to students working toward their MFA degrees. Molly’s earliest professional teaching experience was as a music teacher at Pittman Jr. High in Raytown, MO. She has served as Musical Director for every professional theatre in the Kansas City area beginning at Dinner Theatre, Inc. at the Waldo Astoria and Tiffany’s Attic theatres and on to Starlight Theatre, the Coterie Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre (23 seasons with A Christmas Carol), the Unicorn Theatre, the American Heartland Theatre, and Quality Hill Playhouse. Nationally, she conducted productions at North Shore Music Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Casa Manana, the St. Louis Muny Opera, and at the Kennedy Center. She also toured with the National Tour of Les Miserables. Molly was preceded in death by her parents Marybelle Eubank-Shirk and James M. Shirk. She is survived by her husband George H. Austin (Raytown, MO), her children Bruce Jessup (Seattle, WA), and Jill Webster (Bruce) (Overland Park, KS), her brother Bruce Shirk (Norma) (Washington D.C.), her grandchildren J.D. Sutton, Whitney Sutton, Tyler Webster, and Ava Oakley- Jessup, numerous cousins, and a vast community of loving and devoted friends. Molly will be remembered for her immense love of music and the great gift she possessed for sharing that music with her students and professional theatre devotees. Many who have had the good fortune to work with her, and study under her, are performing on the Broadway stage, in regional theatres, and in film. Molly’s spirit and intelligence, along with her great heart, made her a wonderful mentor to amateurs and professionals alike. All of those who loved Molly will miss her warm eyes, glorious smile, and infectious laugh. She will be remembered for so many days, in so many ways, in the grateful hearts of those who had the good fortune to call her "friend". The family suggests that, in lieu of flowers, you make a contribution to: The Molly Jessup Arts Education Fund, c/o Bank of America, 10017 East 63rd Street, Raytown, Missouri 64133. Donations to the fund will also be accepted at the Memorial Service.

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  1. Gary L. Keller on April 4, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    For all the loving and inspiring things she offered to me from my days first as an Amazing Attic Kazoo..and the later at Waldo Astoria as a staff pianist and keyboardist for musicals……My memories are so very special….such a loss……I heard of her death unfortunately today at High School music contest at Baker University at Baldwin… In visiting with one of the choral judges….it was discovered that we had a mutual friend…..I am shocked at her passing…I last saw her after her performance at the Unicorn doing La Cage Aux Foiles… Molly was truly one in a million….heaven is a richer place with her spirit there…I know she is coaching choirs of angels….that is when she doesn’t have them in stitches laughing.

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