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Music and spirituality were at the center of her life The Reverend Ava Lynn Cudworth was born in Ava, Mo. on April 24, 1943 and passed away in Springfield, Mo., on Oct. 6, 2008 following an extended illness.
Rev. Cudworth is survived by her son, Eric C. Hinegardner; two sisters, Myra Cudworth, of Nixa, Mo. and Paula Cudworth (Gayer) of Springfield, Mo.; two special nieces, Laura Gayer of Springfield, Mo., and Jennifer Gayer, of Buenos Aires, Argentina; aunt and uncle, Norman and Allene Hicks, of Ozark; and many cousins and a host of friends.
Preceding her in death were her parents, Paul and Elsie (Hicks) Cudworth, and grandparents, Clarence and Viola (Byerley) Hicks and Arthur and Minerva (Inman) Cudworth.
As a child, Ava was surrounded by a close-knit community of family, church and school. From the age of 5 her interest in books and talents in music were developed and nurtured by her loving family. By the time she entered Ava High School she was an accomplished pianist and vocalist, earning local recognition and many outstanding awards in state music competitions.
Ava attended College of the Ozarks at Point Lookout, Mo., when the school was a junior college, and later earned a full scholarship to Drury University in Springfield, Mo., where she received a bachelor of science in music education in 1965.
Ava taught music, speech, drama and English in Missouri, Illinois and California public schools for several years before attaining a master of divinity degree from the San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, Calif. She was authorized as an ordained minister by the Golden Gate Association of the California Northern Conference in the United Church of Christ. Reverend Cudworth’s ministry included churches in California, Nevada, Texas and Missouri.
Music and spirituality were always at the center of Ava’s life. Music flowed from her heart and soul, yet she was an unassuming musician. Whether composing, instructing or performing she made it look easy and natural. Although trained in the classics, she was just as comfortable with jazz, ragtime, and folk music as she was with elegant high church selections. As a minister, she worked closely with her church music director to ensure that the music became part of the message and flowed with her sermon. Ava’s sermons were the culmination of skilled research, writing, a highly developed speaking ability (much of it learned from her work in little theater productions), and an acute sensitivity to the needs of her followers.
Visitation will be at Barnes Family Funeral Home in Ozark from 6 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Oct. 11 at St. John’s Chapel United Church of Christ, 4344 South Fremont, Springfield, followed by interment in the Ava Cemetery in Ava, Mo. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials be made to the charity of choice c/o Barnes Family Funeral Home, 1700 South 15th Avenue, Ozark, Mo. 65721.