Hillsdale Town And Country Chorus Gives Tribute To Jason Saneholtz

Jason’s wife Alysha Saneholtz and their sons Joel and Braden and daughter Grace.

Jason’s wife Alysha Saneholtz and their sons Joel and Braden and daughter Grace.

Last October, a man who was a husband, son, brother, golf and baseball coach, mentor and friend lost his life when his pickup truck was struck by a semi-trailer rig. This tragedy broke the hearts of those who knew 39 year-old Jason Saneholtz, but his legacy lives on. Since this Montpelier man’s death six months ago, the community has banded together to pay tribute to him in donations for a golf simulator for the Montpelier Schools, and more recently, to raise funds for a scholarship in his name.

The Hillsdale Town and Country Barbershop Chorus paid tribute to Jason in song on Sunday evening, April 14, 2013. Saneholtz had been a member of the Chorus through 2008. After his tragic death, members of the chorus wanted to do something for Jason’s family. Lynn Lamberson got approval from the family to organize the event, from which proceeds will go to the Jason Saneholtz Scholarship Fund. Lamberson said that the school and its staff was wonderful to work with, providing all that they would need for the program. Thirty-five members were on stage for the event. Saneholtz was “a peach of a guy,” said Lamberson.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Full content protected for online subscribers. Purchase a one week subscription from the top menu bar for just $1.99 to read all online content (full access). Longer subscription plans are also available. Subscriptions cover our costs to attend local events; bringing forth Hometown News Coverage to our communities.”]

Jason’s mother, Kay Saneholtz, said that she was “very appreciative” of the chorus for doing this in remembrance of her son. He was a “family man,” shared Kay, and loved all children. “If you talked to Jason for even five minutes, he was never a stranger again.” Brother A.J. Saneholtz agreed that Jason was “great with his family and kids. He was well respected and really cared for kids, and not just his own.” Jason was a coach for his sons Braden and Joel through peewee ball, tot league, and into Little League where he helped coach for the Owens Electric team, and also for Bullseye Machine. Jason’s father, Jim Saneholtz, said that one of his son’s traits was that he was “so well rounded.” He recalled that someone had written a letter about his son, saying that Jason was solid and grounded in whatever he did, whether it was coaching or singing. His father added that Jason’s “faith abounded” and he served as a deacon at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Montpelier. Jim was very touched that during Jason’s wake, so many children from the community, and even golfers from other towns and schools came in “one after another” to pay their respects to Jason. “He was a mentor to many,” said Jim.

A.J. Saneholtz talks about his brother and thanks contributors.

A.J. Saneholtz talks about his brother and thanks contributors.

Emcee Gary Meyer introduced the Hillsdale Town and Country Barbershop Chorus under the direction of Bob Slamka. Members of the group do the entire program acapella, and range in age from the young men in their teens to men in their eighties. Meyer noted that Jason was a “key player our spring show of 2008.” The chorus gave an upbeat rendition of a combination of “This Little Light of Mine” and “Do Lord.” This was a fitting song as Jason was a light in the community, in the county and in the lives of so many people. Meyer said that members of the chorus sometimes formed quartets, both for themselves and for audiences. The first quartet, “Bail Out” gave their renditions of “You Raise Me Up” followed by “When There’s Love at Home” for an appreciative audience.

During a short intermission during which the wives of the men in the chorus served light refreshments, Jason’s brother A.J. took to the stage to talk about the Jason Saneholtz Scholarship. He said that it would be intended for a person or persons showing a love for golf. He said that before he passed away, Jason had been pushing to bring a golf simulator to the school, and after he died, donations poured in to make that dream a reality. The golf simulator is set up in a small room adjacent to the auditeria. He thanked Dr. Jamison Grime, superintendent, and others for their help and added, “You guys have been amazing.”

He told the audience of Jason’s involvement in the FIRST Club, which stands for Father’s Interested in Raising Sports Involvement. This is a program focusing on underprivileged youth who would otherwise not be able to afford to be in sports. The organization helps these children fund sports involvement and focuses on those in grades kindergarten through six. He encouraged members of the audience to participate in a reverse raffle which will fund the FIRST Club, which will be held on April 26 at a cost of $75, which includes a meal and drinks.

Jason thanked Lynn Lamberson, who was instrumental in bringing this show to Montpelier.

The second part of the show opened with a tribute to “baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie.” The emcee talked about Jason’s part in the spring 2008 show, in which he portrayed a baseball player named Willie Brown. Meyer suggested that as part of the front row chorus of ball players, Saneholtz and his cohorts may have been more than just a little bit mischievous. Meyer cautioned that the group was taking slight liberty with the lyrics to tell the story of Willie Brown in their own version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in which Willie “whines and pines” after three strikes and a “you’re out.” According to the new lyrics, he not only strikes out, but is kicked out of the game in the humorous song.

In a particularly touching part of the program, a quartet consisting of Director Don Slamka, and special guests Slamka’s wife Staci, their daughter Holli, and North Central Schools Vocal Music instructor Joe House performed a barbershop version of Jason’s favorite song: Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

The show took an upbeat turn with enthusiastic performances of “Hello Mary Lou,” “Unchained Melody,” and “Who Put the Bop in the Bomp (Bomp, Bomp, Bomp, Bomp).” Yet another quartet, “Oh My!” did their take on “I Love Coffee, I Love Tea.” After perfoming Patti Paige’s “Old Cape Cod,” the chorus finished with “God Bless America.” The audience gave the Town and Country Chorus a well-deserved standing ovation.

After the program concluded, Jason’s wife Alysha, now a single mother to their three children Braden, age 11; Joel, age 6; and daughter Grace, 11 months, expressed her appreciation and thanks to “everyone for organizing and doing this.” She said that Jason had loved being a part of the Chorus, and only left when his children’s activities began to require more of his attention. “He never did anything halfway,” she added. Although he was no longer able to be a part of the Town and Country Chorus, he still sang barbershop with some friends from Saint John’s Lutheran Church: brother A.J. Saneholtz, Kevin Moore, and Dave Deetz.

Though Jason’s light burned out well before its time, his legacy shines on in his beautiful children, in the projects he inspired, and in all of those whose lives he touched. He will be remembered for many years yet to come.[/emember_protected]

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