Jennifer Ross Rinehart, well-loved and popular piano teacher, died June 25, age 72. A longtime Oberlin resident, she graduated from Norwalk High School, received a Bachelor of Music degree from Heidelberg College and Master of Arts in Piano Pedagogy from Ohio State University. At Oberlin College she was an Assistant Professor of Music Theory and served as Special Academic Advisor in the Office of the Dean of the Conservatory.
Jennifer was an accomplished and versatile pianist, best known for her performances of new and difficult music. She performed often in New York, including at Merkin Hall. At Oberlin she performed on a concert program in honor of Leo Ornstein’s hundredth birthday, as part of a concert celebrating George Walker, and, on a faculty recital, John Rinehart’s Oubliée. She recorded often for Opus One Label, and for North/South Recordings played Elizabeth Bell’s Duovarios for two pianos with Loretta Goldberg.
Hundreds of students, from beginners to advanced passed through her piano studio. Teaching was her first love-she spoke of her students with enthusiasm and pride and many remained friends for years. Although a specialist in contemporary music herself, she let her students explore what they liked most. She coached them with patience, got them excited about new repertory, and was always positive.
A beloved member of Beth Israel — the West Temple, where she received an adult bat mitzvah, Jennifer helped lead Shabbat services and was piano accompanist for regular services, High Holiday services and gala productions. She volunteered at the Temple Library, and worked with the Adult Learning Program.
Jennifer traveled widely in the United States and visited Europe. Her most memorable trip was crewing a two-person sailboat on a journey from Alaska through the Inside Passage to Puget Sound. Closer to home, she was a volunteer usher for the Cleveland Orchestra, was active in the League of Women’s Voters of the Oberlin Area, Friends of Westwood Cemetery, and was an avid gardener.
Jennifer’s circle of friends and family was wide. She was a selfless champion of those in need, warm, generous, spontaneous, always ready to join in the fun at a moments notice. More than anything, she loved and was proud of her grandchildren. Jennifer’s presence and boundless energy will be sorely missed by all who knew and love her. We all cherish her memory.
Jennifer was preceded in death by her parents James and Ruth Gray Ross. Survivors include her son John Rinehart, his wife Nancy and their children Emilia and Benjamin; brother Dr. James N. Ross, Jr., nieces Stephanie Harris, Amy Tobin and Lisa Ross, many cousins, a grandniece and grandnephews. Donations in Jennifer’s memory can be made to Beth Israel- the West Temple, 14308 Triskett Road, Cleveland, OH 44111.
A memorial service was held in Kulas Hall, 77 West College Street, Oberlin at 3 p. m. on Sunday, June 30.