Author Archives: Tom Kephart

Remembering Jo-Anne Wilkie

Longtime Guild member and current board member Jo-Anne Wilkie died on November 7, 2019. Jo-Anne was involved with the Guild for many years as an actor and administrator, paralleling her involvement with the arts at the St. Clair Art Association and other area organizations.

Jo-Anne was also a talented singer and vocal director, leading and participating in numerous choirs and ensembles in her long musical career. We will miss Jo-Anne’s energy and laughter and we thank her for all of the time she devoted to the Guild and to the arts in St. Clair!

Jo-Anne Frances (Krieger) Smithmeyer Wilkie, age 86, of St. Clair, passed away Thursday, November 7, 2019. She was born November 6, 1933, in Garfield, New Jersey, to the late Edward and Mary (Mae) Krieger. Jo-Anne married Ronald Jerome Smithmeyer in 1957, who preceded her in death in 1974. In 1976, she married David John Wilkie, who preceded her death in 2013. Jo-Anne began her working career as a music teacher at St. Joan of Arc, in Indianapolis, Indiana. She followed her calling in music as a choral director for many church and community choirs. Jo-Anne especially cherished her time directing in Indianapolis, where she was able to share her passion for singing and directing with her father. Their love for music and song built a strong bond, creating lasting memories that she always held dear. Jo-Anne worked for the City of Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Department, coordinating many large-scale events for the city. One of her proudest achievements was Christmas on the Circle, a combination of annual tree lighting ceremonies at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument with a month-long celebration of music. Many of these traditions continue today. Moving to Michigan in 1977, Jo-Anne served as the Founding Executive Director of the Downriver Council for the Arts. Her career as an advocate for local arts in Michigan continued when she became the Executive Director of the Arts Center in Mount Clemens, where she worked for over 20 years.

Throughout her career, Jo-Anne was always active in her church and community. Volunteering was a central part of her entire life. She held multiple leadership and contributing member positions with St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the St. Clair Art Association, the St. Clair Theater Guild and other community organizations. Jo-Anne continued directing choirs through this past spring. Beyond her personal contribution to the arts and music, Jo-Anne’s true gift to all who knew her was her beautiful voice. A magnificent soprano, she always had a song in her voice. Whether at church, local restaurants, on stage or at home, Jo-Anne simply loved, and lived, to sing. She performed in many local theater productions, including her favorite role of Mother Superior in The Sound of Music. Her rendition of “Ave Maria” is legendary among those who knew her. Jo-Anne was a lively and positive spirit, a woman in charge with the voice of an angel. Above all else, Jo-Anne loved spending time with her family and friends, and celebrated each day they had together. She will be missed greatly by all who knew and loved her.

Jo-Anne is survived by her children, Anne (Leon) LaBrecque, Kathryn (John) Klink, Mary (Chris) Poleto, Kathryn (John) Dunn, Lynda Campbell, Scott (Mary) Wilkie, David (Christine) Wilkie, Robert Wilkie; grandchildren, Arielle, Alexander, Annabel LaBrecque, Jennifer (Kyle) Chin, Michael, Matthew Klink, Ella, Jack Poleto, John (Jennifer) Dunn, Alisyn (Travis) Conway, Patrick (Brittany) Dunn, Sandy (Nick) Stankov, Jacob, Nathaniel, Lucian Wilkie, Krislyn, Kennedy Wilkie; great grandchildren, Kristyn, Madelyn, Alayna, Caleb, Andrew, Milynne, Luke, Grace, as well as many other family members and friends, especially her dear friend Brian Moss.

Jo-Anne is preceded in death by Kristyn Wilkie, Gabriel Wilkie, and Amanda LaBrecque.

A funeral mass was held on Monday, November 11, at 11:00 a.m. at Holy Cross Catholic Church, Marine City. The family received visitors on Sunday, November 10, from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. (Rosary at 7:00 p.m.) at L.C. Friederichs and Son Funeral Home, St. Clair, Michigan. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made towards a memoriam that will be named in Jo-Anne’s honor at the Community Foundation of St. Clair County. To leave a message of comfort visit

Community Sings coming up in October, November and December

Come join us at the St. Clair Library for some great evenings of sing-along fun! There’s no charge, so warm up your voices and come on out on the third Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m.

  • Thursday, October 17 – We’ll be introducing our new song books (“Rise Up Singing”) which include over 1200 songs. Samples will be available for viewing and you can buy your own copy if you want for just $24.00. This should make it easier for our song leaders to put together a program of songs.
  • Thursday, November 21 – Our song leaders will be Judy and Mike (JAM), who led one of the Community Sings last year and we really enjoyed their program.
  • Thursday, December 19 – Tom Kephart will be the song leader. He was song leader in March with a program of road and travel songs; there will probably be quite a few holiday songs in this program!

Thanks to the St. Clair Library for hosting these great community events. By the way, recent studies have shown that singing helps improve your immune system as well as increasing the oxygen your body needs. So do it for your health, too!

Susquatch rehearsals

“Susquatch” is a barbershop-style vocal group that is supported by the Guild. It originally formed for the city of St. Clair’s sesquicentennial celebrations and continued after those events ended. The name is a play on “sesquicentennial.” The group is open to all interested singers, male and female.

Susquatch normally has rehearsals at the Guild building on Monday evenings, but for the next few months they’ll be taking place at the home of Brian Moss. For more details and directions to Brian’s place, leave us a message using our Contact form and we’ll get back to you.

Annual Meeting and Picnic on September 15

The Annual Meeting of the St. Clair Theatre Guild will take place, as required by our by-laws, on the third Sunday of September at 4:00 p.m. This year that’s September 15, and we’re going to have a picnic before so current members and interested future members can discuss our future plans for 2019-2020.

Annual meeting graphic

The picnic will begin at 2:00 p.m. at the Guild Building, located in Klecha Park on Goffe St. in St. Clair, near the intersection with Palmer St. Bring a dish to pass and your own beverages.

At 4:00 p.m., the Annual Meeting will begin. Reports will be given to the membership and an election for the board of directors will be conducted. If you are interested in standing for election to the SCTG board for a two-year term (September 2019 to August 2021), please use our Contact form to let President Tom Kephart know.

In order to participate in the Annual Meeting part of the afternoon, you will need to join the Guild or renew your membership for 2019-20. Membership forms will be available at the picnic, or you can download one here in advance. Dues are $15.00 for adults and $5.00 for children 17 or younger.