Our beloved and talented mother Jodi Marshall, 85, passed away on Friday, May 25 at her home with family and friends surrounding her in love. Bathe in the morning sun, play along the banks of the muddy ol’ Fox River, and bury your face in the sweet smell of the pink and white peonies you so dearly loved. You’re at peace and home in the Heavenly Father’s arms you so deeply loved.
Mom’s talent was a gift from God and she honored that gift when she played from her heart baring her soul each time her fingers touched the piano keys. She believed music was the language of the soul and that it had the power to bring joy and love to those around her…and it did to so many people that knew and loved her.
Jodi (Joanne Scales) was born in Elgin, IL on April 18, 1933 to Harold and Esther Scales. As a child prodigy, Jodi played Mendelssohn’s G Minor Concerto when she was 11 years old at the Kimball Hall Conservatory in Chicago, IL. In 1947 she moved with her family to Burbank, CA where she attended the California Academy of Music.
It was in Burbank that Jodi became Debbie Reynolds’ first piano accompanist and was a free-lance pianist for MGM and other major studios. She cut demonstration records for Capitol Records and performed in promotional tours with stars from MGM for the movie, “Operation Starlift” during the Korean War. She went on to perform in an extended USO tour with Raymond Burr and celebrities entertaining the troops throughout the Far East and Pacific.
In 1959, after having two daughters, Melinda and Venetia, she resumed her career in California and toured with the Ina Ray Hutton 6-piece jazz band. She toured 38 states with both her young daughters in tow. In 1970, Jodi had another daughter, Amy, and in 1971 moved her girls to Missoula where she has lived and touched the lives of so many with her music for the past 47 years.
As the grand dame of piano and Missoula’s First Lady of Jazz she taught a generation of pianists in the Missoula Valley. Jodi performed in multiple venues, large and small and accompanied 22 shows with MCT. She has been the pianist at St. Anthony’s Parish for the past 35+ years. St Anthony’s was her second family and she would want to thank them for a life time of faith, love and support.
In 2005, she received the Missoula Cultural Council’s Cultural Achievement Award for her dedication and contribution to the arts and was also the first recipient of the Missoula Blues & Jazz Society Awards. In 2009, she performed on the National Jerry Lewis Telethon in Las Vegas, NV.
A $50,000 scholarship fund was also established in her name, The Jodi Marshall Scholarship Fund through the University of Montana by Drs. Capps and Rikard to further jazz students’ studies.
Jodi leaves behind her three daughters: Melinda Leibinger and husband Len, Venetia Buxton and Amy Dockrey; two granddaughters, Megan Murray and husband Justin and their children Hazel and Warren and Emily Wanke and her husband Skylar. She is preceded in death by her sisters Dorothy McKinstry and Jeanne Marshall and grandson, Chason Buxton.
Jodi brought so many people together and into her life through her music. She loved you all (and you know who you are!) and you meant the world to her…you truly did. She was honored to have been in your lives and for all the love and support you gave her over the years.
A visitation for her family, friends and acquaintances will be held Thursday May 31 from 10:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. at Garden City Funeral Home as well as one hour prior to the funeral mass at church. A funeral Mass with be held Friday June 1 at 11:00 A.M. at St. Anthony Catholic Parish, a reception will immediately follow in the church’s fellowship hall; a graveside service will follow at 3:00 P.M. at Sunset Cemetery’s Mausoleum. Condolences may be shared with the family by visiting gardencityfh.com
Mom loved people. I think she would say to all of us…don’t shut your heart to love. So…live fully, play lots of music, and most importantly; go in peace and love one another as Jesus loved you.
I’ll be seeing you…
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