Couple leaves $6 million to York music


Two lifelong music lovers have left nearly $6 million to several programs across York City to ensure their craft continues to flourish.

Jim and Beverly Mohatt spent their lives spreading the joy of music to their students. Beverly was a dedicated string instructor in schools in and around York and Jim, a teacher at York College, helped boost its music program during his tenure there.

Beverly passed away in 1996 and her husband in 2014. Upon Jim's death, the couple left large donations to the James L. Mohatt Excellence in Music Education Scholarship, the York Symphony Orchestra, the York Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Spring Garden Band. Three new endowed funds were created at York County Community Foundation courtesy of the Mohatts': the Dr. James L. Mohatt Fund for York Symphony; the Beverly J. Mohatt Fund of the York Youth Symphony Orchestra; and the Dr. James L. Mohatt Fund for Spring Garden Band.

Their "gift to the Spring Garden Band is really a blessing," said Chuck Long, the band's treasurer. "This means the band will be in existence and be able to meet its obligations forever."

Cal Weary, president of the youth orchestra, echoed Long's gratitude.

"The YYSO will forever be grateful for this endowment not only for what it gives us in longevity but also because it helps us to remember them forevermore," Weary said, adding he chose the Community Foundation to steward the Mohatt's gift because the Foundation's objective is to "build a better York, and that coupled with a proven track record makes them the obvious choice for any nonprofit organization to partner with."

Influence: After Jim earned his doctorate in 1971, the newly married couple moved to York from Burlington, Iowa. Jim took on a teaching position with York College as one of only a few faculty members within the music program, which was at risk of folding.

"When I came to York College in 1989 as director of music programs, Jim was the stalwart of the program who was keeping it all together," said Fred Schreiner, who is now retired. "The administration had decided to do away with the music program for economic reasons. The facilities were in total decline; there was one classroom and no office space, and there were very few faculty members."

Schreiner and Jim came together and developed a plan to save the program that included achieving accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music, revising the bachelor's degree in music and creating a music education degree that met NASM standards, building new facilities and finding a way to get more scholarships.

After five years, the pair had accomplished all of their goals, ultimately creating a competitive program at the college.

Symphony: Both Jim and Beverly were members of the York Symphony, Jim playing trombone and his wife the violin. Beverly also served as the symphony's music librarian and was a member and founder of the Colonial String Quartet.

"Jim Mohatt's gift to the York Symphony comes at a very opportune time," said Dick Brown, development director for the York Symphony Orchestra. "Running a symphony takes significant community support, so to quintuple our endowment fund is really a wonderful, wonderful thing. It will allow us to transition the Symphony with professional management, continue to raise the musical quality of the Symphony, enhance the performances, and further expand our music educational outreach programs to children and youth throughout York County and city."

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at