Music 32

John Ashton Worsley

September 12, 1934 ~ August 4, 2019 (age 84)


Dr. John Worsley, of Lincoln, RI, passed away on Sunday, August 4 th , at Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, RI, after a long illness. Dr. Worsley was born in Providence, the son of the late William and Ethel (Ashton) Worsley. He is survived by his loving wife Rhoda (Mullen) Tallo and loving cousin Jean (Ashton) Horton of Saco, Maine.

He was a native of Pawtucket, RI. In his youth he was an outstanding athlete, and by high school he had become a championship soccer player. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brown University, and his PhD from Clark University in Worcester. 

John served on the Executive Board of The Providence Federation of Musicians (Local 198-457) from 1998 until his death, a tenure of almost twenty-two years. He was a Life Member of the Musicians’ Union.

In addition to being a strong advocate for unions, especially the musicians’ union, John was an educator, a newspaper reporter, a grant writer, a music impresario, and an accomplished pianist. He taught at the Community College of Rhode Island for forty-nine years and had also taught at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Early in his career he worked as a reporter for the Pawtucket Times. Over the last twenty years he wrote a column about jazz and jazz musicians for the Times. Concurrently, he served as the primary grant proposal writer for the City of Central Falls school department.

Many music fans recall the wonderful Sunday afternoon jazz series, which John produced throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s at the Providence Marriott hotel. John paired celebrity jazz artists from New York and Boston with local musicians in a format that always attracted large and enthusiastic audiences.

He also produced a series of jazz concerts at the University Club, where he was a member for many years. He was a strong supporter of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, whose concerts he attended regularly. He served on the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.

Throughout his life John played piano with many local musicians, frequently leading his own bands. In his later years, he fronted a revived version of the well-known Dixieland band, The Jewels of Dixie, aptly renamed John Worsley’s SwingTime.

During his long career John touched the lives of many people in all walks of life – musicians, music lovers, students, educators, artists, politicians, and labor leaders. He will be remembered for his vitality, his drive, his warm cheer, and his passion for music.

Although John’s arrangements will be private, he would be thankful for donations made in his memory to the American Parkinson Disease Association, Rhode Island Chapter, PO Box 41659, Providence, RI 02940 or the American Lung Association in Rhode Island, 260 West Exchange Street, Suite 102B, Providence, RI 02903.

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