HARPER, David E.
David E. Harper died in his home on June 26, 2013. David was born on April 27, 1931 to James and Beatrice Harper, and grew up in Coraopolis, PA. David was predeceased by his parents and step-siblings. David attended Capitol College, in Columbus, OH, where in 1953 he was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Music Education. David was licensed to teach music in Ohio. Immediately upon graduation from Capitol, David enlisted in the United States Army serving in the Army of Occupation in Bad Kreutztag, Germany. There, he performed his duties with distinction as Chaplain's Assistant. After leaving the Army, David attended the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. In 1957, David received his Master's Degree with a major in organ performance and a minor in voice. While at Westminster, David performed with such notable musicians as Leonard Bernstein and Igor Stravinsky. In 1957, after graduation from Westminster, David came to the Emanuel Lutheran Church of Hartford, and remained there for forty-three years during the pastorates of the Rev. Dr. Stanley Sandberg, the Rev. Dr. John H. Stadtlander, and the Rev. John F. Corgan. Pr. Sandberg named David the Minister of Music, and upon his retirement from Emanuel, David was given the title of Minister of Music Emeritus. David was a highly skilled organist, choral director, singer, and teacher. He was well known and much appreciated for his encyclopedic knowledge of organ literature and the church's hymnody. David was and remains deeply loved by the people of Emanuel whom he regarded as his family. David touched many lives in his work and interactions with the people of Emanuel. He led adult and children choirs, and the hand bell choir, playing for three regular services each Sunday and for special services throughout the year, such as the Lighted Cross and Noon-Ten services during Lent. During the last ten years of his tenure at Emanuel, David accompanied the highly regarded St. Lucia Festival. For a number of years, in conjunction with the Social Ministry Committee David organized and performed at a popular series of half hour concerts at the noon hour followed by a luncheon. For many years, in the month of May, the members and friends of Emanuel looked forward to the choir's annual Pops Night performance. On these occasions, David was pleased to sing a comic song, revealing his appreciation for and sense of humor. David's musical influence extended far beyond the confines of Emanuel. For thirty years, David broadcasted the hour- long "Radio Voice of Religion" on radio station WJMJ. The program had a large audience extending into neighboring states. The program was very well received and prompted numerous correspondence and visits by listeners to Emanuel. For several years, David joined Ivor Hugh for one hour on Monday evenings on "Good Evening, Good Music" also on WJMJ. David provided an hour of music and commentary for "Music for the King of Instruments; The Organ." This program also received much popular acclaim. David also provided material and regularly appeared on the television show "Rich Answers." David was a devoted and committed member of the Hartford Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, having served as Dean and Treasurer. David was recently awarded a certificate in recognition of the thirtieth anniversary of his commissioning as an Associate in Ministry in the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. David was also a recipient of the Soli Deo Gloria award, the highest possible recognition of a lay person by the New England Synod. David performed in many area churches and at the Bushnell Auditorium in Hartford. He played for many events at both the synod and national levels of the church, including ordinations and two large conventions, one in Hartford, and one in Boston. He gave lectures on hymnody, Swedish music and other topics of musical interest in many churches throughout the synod. After retiring from Emanuel in 2000, David served for ten years as organist and choir director for the Flagg Road Congregational Church of West Hartford. Upon retiring from that position, David returned to worship at Emanuel and concluded his musical career by singing in the choir. David will long be remembered by many as a gentleman in every sense of the word. Although extremely accomplished he was always humble and self-effacing. While shy by nature, he was a true friend to countless individuals and was important in the lives of many. He lived his life with an attitude of kindness and gratitude. David was in every respect a child of God. David will be deeply mourned by all whose lives he touched.
A memorial service to celebrate the life of David Edward Harper will be held on Saturday, July 13 at 11 a.m. at the Emanuel Lutheran Church, 311 Capitol Ave, Hartford. Interment in the Emanuel Memorial Garden will follow immediately. A reception will be held in Luther Hall at Emanuel. Ample parking is available adjacent to the church and in the State Parking Lot on Capitol Avenue. In lieu of flowers, gifts in David's memory may be made to the David Harper Fund for Improvements and Restoration of the Austin Organ at Emanuel Lutheran Church. Taylor & Modeen Funeral Home, West Hartford has care of arrangements. For directions and online condolences, please visit www.taylorandmodeen.com.