Dr. Charles Garner, composer, musician and educator, of Silver Spring, Maryland, went home to be with the Lord on February 12, 2019. He was born on July 27 in Toledo, Ohio, the fifth of ten children of Plurel and Lucius Garner. While still a child, Charles accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at Toledo's St. Paul Baptist Church.
As a child prodigy pianist, Charles served as his church musician by the time he was twelve. During his teens, he accompanied notable singing artists, including Mahalia Jackson and Willie Mae Ford Smith. He later earned a bachelor's degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, a master's degree from Boston University, and his doctorate from Teachers College Columbia University. He completed additional graduate work at Yale University, where he received the prestigious Frances Osbourn Kellogg Counterpoint Prize and the Charles Ditson Award. Charles was a U.S. Army Korean War Veteran.
For twenty-eight years, Dr. Garner was a beloved professor of music at Southern Connecticut State University, retiring as former Chairman of the Music Department. He was designated Professor Emeritus and was furthered honored when the University's main recital hall was renamed The Charles Garner Recital Hall. Throughout his career, Dr. Garner made numerous contributions to the arts in musical theater and television, and through scores of solo recitals, ensemble collaborations and premieres. He also served as Organist/Director of Music for several congregations in the Northeast and Midwest. Among his professional and fraternal affiliations were Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; Center for Black Music Research (Charter Member); Connecticut State Music Educators Association; American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP); Leisure World Kiwanis Foundation, Inc.; and Prince Hall Mason 33°. As a composer, he had recently completed an extended musical work based on the Negro spiritual, "Oh Freedom." Dr. Garner's choral compositions, which are published by G.I.A. Publishers (Chicago), have been presented by soloists and choirs worldwide.
Dr. Garner was preceded in death by his parents and eight siblings. He leaves to treasure his memory his beloved wife of nearly 60 years, Judith M. Garner; son, Kevin Garner of Rockville, MD; daughter, Darchelle M. Garner of Silver Spring, MD; sister Joan (Charles) Moss of Toledo, OH; and a host of nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. A memorial service is planned for the spring. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts be sent to your favorite charity
Published by The New Haven Register on Feb. 24, 2019.