Edward C. Roberts, 73, organist, music teacher in Baltimore schools

September 04, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Edward Charles Roberts, a veteran music teacher in city schools who was also a church organist, died of cancer Aug. 28 at St. Agnes HealthCare. The Catonsville resident was 73.

Born and raised in Scranton, Pa., he graduated from what was then Mansfield State Teachers College in Mansfield, Pa. He later received a master's degree in music education from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Mr. Roberts moved to Baltimore in 1953 and served in the Army for two years before becoming a Baltimore schools music teacher. During his 38-year career, he taught at the old Betsy Ross Elementary School, Clifton Park Junior High School, Edmondson High School, Rock Glen Middle School, and Lyndhurst, Harlem Park, Maree G. Farring and Beechfield elementary schools before retiring in 1991.

A 1983 Evening Sun profile of him and his teaching style said that he kept "eager waves of children singing, playing, clapping, marching and learning almost nonstop for eight periods. Without their realizing it, he also was sharpening their coordination, their concentration and their abilities to listen, to follow directions, work together, read, count and do simple math."

The newspaper story said he rose each school morning at 6 a.m. to prepare daily lesson plans for six classes spread over four grade levels. In addition to these duties, he arranged performances by his fourth- and fifth-grade pupils.

"Music was his life. There was an uncomplicated, easygoing, almost childlike quality about him," said his son, Dale Roberts of Relay. "He'd walk into a room and play the piano. Before long, people would start singing. He liked organizing concerts and bringing music to people."

In 1956, at the start of his teaching career, he became the organist at Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church on Edmondson Avenue, where he remained for another 40 years. After retiring from that post, he became organist at Catonsville Presbyterian Church, where he played until June.

"He was a magnificent church musician," said Alice G. Read, widow of the Hunting Ridge pastor, the Rev. Dr. Robert L. Read. "He had such a good way with children's and teen choirs. He and his manner appealed to children."

Mr. Roberts was an active member of many music organizations, including the National Association for Music Education, where he was recently presented with a 50-year service pin, the American Guild of Organists, the American Choral Directors Association and the Welsh choir, Cor Rehoboth, based in Delta, Pa.

Several years ago, he sang with the Welsh choir at the wedding of film stars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is Welsh. Mr. Roberts' father was born in Wales.

He was also a founding member and past president of the Baltimore chapter of Choristers Guild.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 11 at Catonsville Presbyterian Church, 1400 Frederick Road, Catonsville.

Mr. Roberts also is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, the former Marilyn Brush; another son, Glen A. Roberts of Mount Airy; a brother, Thomas Roberts of Scranton; and two grandchildren.

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