In Memory of





Obituary for James G. Staples III

James Gwynn Staples III, of Indiana, died Sunday, March 5, 2023, at Moorehead Place, Indiana, PA. Born in Miami, FL on July 15, 1934, he was the son of the late James Gwynn Staples II and Caroline (Taylor) Staples. Jim graduated from Lauderdale High School in 1952 and served from 1957-1959 in the U.S. Army where he was stationed in Hanau, Germany.

Dr. Jim Staples was a Professor of Music at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) for 44 years. He also taught piano and music theory at SUNY Fredonia for 7 years. Dr. Staples held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in performance from Florida State University and a Doctor of Musical Arts in performance from the Eastman School of Music. He also studied privately in New York City for two years with the late Irwin Freundlich. His other teachers included Carlisle Floyd and Maria Luisa Faini. A frequent solo pianist and recitalist, Dr. Staples appeared with orchestras in Fredonia and Rochester, New York, in Tallahassee and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and in Indiana, Pennsylvania. He participated in chamber recitals across the Northeast, as well as in Colorado as a faculty member of the Rocky Ridge Music Center in Estes Park. Since his retirement in June 2011, he played numerous recitals with his violinist stepson, Mark Richardson both in Boston, MA, and western Pennsylvania.

Since 1988, Dr. Staples pursued a lifelong interest in music composition. His works for piano solo include a sonata, four suites of shorter pieces, and a theme and variations; for chamber group, he wrote a piano trio, three duos for clarinet and bassoon, a suite for tuba, and works for clarinet and piano, trombone and piano, and flute and piano. In addition, there are two choral works with piano accompaniment and a piece for wind ensemble and piano. During a sabbatical leave in 1995-96, Dr. Staples composed and scored a large-scale piano concerto with orchestra, which he performed twice with the IUP symphony.

Jim was an avid concert- and theater-goer. Since 1964, he attended plays annually at the Stratford and Shaw Festivals in Ontario, Canada, as well as myriad performances annually of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He rarely missed a local piano recital at the professional or student level.

Dr. Staples loved baseball, trains and building model sets with his young children, in addition to traveling the world on semi-annual excursions whether by train, plane or automobile, where he would document his experiences in the quick-witted, often dry but inescapably funny and heartwarming prose many looked forward to reading upon his returns. His incomparable sense of humor and omnipresent smile coined him the nickname “Smilin’ Jim” early in his career at IUP, and he is remembered most fondly in this way.

Dr. Staples is survived by his six children: Mark Richardson (Georgia Buck), Boston, MA; David Richardson, Las Vegas, NV; Claudia Stapleton (James), Indiana; Kathryn “Kate” Franklin, Atlanta, GA; John Matthew “Matt” Staples, Blairsville; and Hilary Staples (Robert Begg), Indiana. He has nine surviving grandchildren: Brittany McDonald, Megan Richardson (Omri), Kevin Stapleton (Aubree), Derek, Riley and Dylan (Alaina Kiral) Stapleton, Rachel Staples, Adrian Staples, and Jaydon Franklin, and three great grandchildren: Quinn, Liam and Logan. He is also remembered by his sister, Mary Linda Dooley (Frank), and several nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, James was preceded in death by his sisters Beverly Ann and Sarah Lorraine, and his former wife, Ann McDonald Staples.

Dr. Staples’ family extends their gratitude for the hospice/palliative care team at the VNA and Moorehead Place.

Friends will be received Monday, March 20th, from 5-7 p.m. in the Sutton Hall Blue Room on the IUP campus. The Staples family is being assisted by Rairigh-Bence Funeral Home & Crematory of Indiana.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the James Staples Piano Scholarship Fund at IUP.

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