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YATES, Kenneth George Age 69, died on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, at Hospice Savannah following a brief illness. He was the son of the late Edith A. Yates and Arthur D. Yates of New Bedford, MA, and is survived by his brother David Yates, sister-in-law Joan Yates and nieces Patty Schmitz and Margaret Marshall. At the time of his death he was Organist/Choirmaster at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Savannah. Ken begin studying piano with Alise Doran, but soon realized that he was drawn to the organ and music of the church. By the time he entered high school, he was serving as an Assistant Organist for All Saint's Church, Ashmont, MA. After serving in the U.S. Navy as Chaplain's assistant for four years aboard the aircraft carrier U.S. Intrepid, Ken finished his degree in Church Music from Boston University in l973. He taught music in the Boston Public Schools for nearly ten years and served as Organist/Choirmaster at the Church of the Epiphany, Walpole, MA, and also at St. Paul's, Brockton, MA. Ken moved to Savannah in l983 when the late Father Ralston, foregoing the usual search process, appointed him Organist/Choirmaster at St. John's Church, Episcopal, where he served until 1999. In addition to service at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Ken served many other churches in the Savannah area: Wilmington Island Presbyterian Church; All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head, SC; St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church; Christ Church Episcopal, and Congregation Mickve Israel. Ken was a member of the American Guild of Organists. He unreservedly shared his talents and knowledge freely as he taught many students through the years, both organ and piano. A cradle Episcopalian, he understood and appreciated the great musical and liturgical heritage of the church, and did not take kindly to uneducated musicians and clergy in places of authority who sought to make changes that have now proved to be not in the best interest of the church or to the cause of music. We have been blessed that God sent Ken our way, and hope that his legacy will continue and blossom through his friends, colleagues, students and choristers for many years to come. The memorial service for Kenneth Yates will be held at St. John's Church, Episcopal, (Madison Square) on Thursday, April 7, at 11am. Friends and colleagues are invited to continue Ken's legacy by sending donations to the Organ Restoration Project at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 1707 Bull St, Savannah, GA 31401 or to the music department of St. John's Church, One West Macon St., Savannah, GA 31401.
Published in The Boston Globe on Apr. 5, 2016
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