In loving memory

Norah Keating, right, presents a $10,000 gift to the Penticton Academy of Music on behalf of the late Norm Looney. Accepting the cheque is PAMS president Holly Wiesinger.

A former board member of the Penticton Academy of Music has left the world on a positive note by leaving behind a $10,000 donation to establish a scholarship program.

Norm Earl Looney passed away on March 24 after a short battle with cancer.

He joined the board of directors of the Penticton Academy of Music Society in 2014, and one of his last wishes was to show gratitude for the role that music had in shaping his life.

As such, he requested that donations in his memory be made to the Penticton Academy of Music to further its mission of providing outstanding music education and opportunities to the community.

Looney’s career as a horticultural scientist saw him travel all over the world, but his musical roots kept him grounded and helped set him off on his career as he went to university on a music scholarship.

“Music was always a big part of our family life. A piano was a standard piece of furniture in our home,” said his sister, Ardis.

“The musical gift is an inherited thing; and we received it from both sides of the family. … Norman began playing clarinet in junior high. The squeaky stage was short lived, and he learned quickly. He advanced to first chair, and never relinquished that position. He loved to tease the girl who played second, by putting in extra notes.”

On the work side of things, Looney received his PhD in horticulture at Washington State University, but shortly after graduation moved his family to Summerland where he built a career at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, becoming principal research scientist.

Once in Summerland, Looney joined the Summerland Singers and Players, singing in many Gilbert and Sullivan productions. In subsequent years he played clarinet in the Penticton Concert Band, sang with the Galaxy Singers, the Okanagan Symphony Chorus and sang bass in Musaic Vocal Ensemble from its inception in 1994 until December 2015. 

Through his day job, he served two terms as president of the International Society for Horticultural Science, and built liaisons with groups such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

His passion for improving quality of life of the world’s poorest citizens led him to found the Global Horticulture Initiative whose mission is to improve global health and prosperity through horticultural crops.

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