Reflecting on the talent and generosity of two individuals who have devoted much of their lives to serving others, members of the Utah Valley and Salt Lake chapters of the BYU Management Society honored Jerold and JoAnn Ottley May 5 as "distinguished Utahns of the Year."
The voice coach and retired director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir were lauded as ones who have pressed forward with their gaze fixed upon the light of Christ, who have been strengthened by His light and who have served as luminaries to the rest of humanity.
"JoAnn and Jerold Ottley have not only represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and this great state of Utah to the rest of the world, but they also emulate and promote the life and gospel of Jesus Christ," said Sterling Orton, president of the Utah County chapter, before the award was presented during a dinner and reception at the Wyndham Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. "We thank you for your contribution to the community, to the Church and to the world."
Over the years, Brother Ottley directed 1,300 weekly Tabernacle Choir programs for "Music and the Spoken Word." In addition he traveled with the choir to 111 cities in 22 states and 28 countries on five continents, said Udell Poulsen, who has been associated with the Ottleys for more than 25 years while serving as choir business manager. Sister Ottley, he added, has helped countless people as a voice coach and inspired thousands more as a soloist.
During brief remarks, Sister Ottley noted that people can learn a great lesson from geese, who gain strength from others by flying in a "V" formation in a flock.
"I have lived in a very rich classroom and the lessons have been very, very large," she said, crediting her success to teamwork. "I am one part of a very large and significant team [the Tabernacle Choir]. I wish you all could know the level of their commitment and their willingness, week in and week out."
Closing, she asked members of the BYU Management Society to continue in the wisdom of the noble goose, "to stay in formation with those ahead, be willing to help those falling behind, and honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed."
During his remarks, Brother Ottley said that any management system that ignores individual difference does a disservice to itself and to the individuals that make up the corporate whole.
"This is especially true in choral singing" when improving one voice can improve the entire choir, he said.
"The management of vocal differences, difference in musical abilities and personality traits, is a major element in the success of a choir," he said.
Brother Ottley then expressed appreciation for the award. "We are honored," he said. "We are grateful. We thank you sincerely. We will try to take the spirit of this honor and transform it into continued service that will be beneficial in bringing the hearts and souls of men together."