In Loving Memory
April 11, 1924 – November 5, 2013
Robert Brooks Sawyer, Jr., 89, a resident of Mobile, passed away on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, at his home. He was a veteran of WWII, US Air Force, serving as a gunner and radio operator on a B-17 bomber aircraft. Later, he studied at the University of Michigan where he earned a Masters degree in music. He loved being a part of the music program there and enjoyed Michigan football, even becoming a dorm captain for the players. Robert and his wife, Nyra were both music professors at Bethel College in Hopkinsville, Kentucky until the college closed in 1964. It was then that he was asked to join the newly opened Mobile College, in Mobile Alabama. There, he was professor of music, specializing in music theory, and retired after more than thirty years of teaching and service. He was Organist and Precentor in the Episcopal Church for almost three decades, serving at Trinity Episcopal Church in Mobile, and St. Francis Episcopal on Dauphin Island.
Music was his passion and he loved sharing it with others. He loved accompanying students at their recitals playing the organ, piano, and harpsichord. He enjoyed teaching his students and working with church choirs, and built many strong and lasting friendships that exceeded far beyond the classrooms.
He attended, played and taught, at many music and church music seminars, and gave several piano recitals and organ concerts. Each year he played the organ and harpsichord with the music students at The Messiah Sing In. His hobbies were building pipe organs, woodworking, green-thumbing, camping, and bike riding, especially in the mountains. He was responsible for many organ installations, tuning and upkeep of those beautiful instruments. Above all his activities, he was extremely proud to have known and taught many of the fine musicians, organist, and pianists we enjoy today. Preceding him in death are his wife, Nyra Turbeville Sawyer, his sisters, Dorothy Sawyer Batten and Susan Eckerdite, his brothers, James Sawyer and Fran Sawyer, and his grandson, Nicholas Richard Sawyer.
He is survived by his daughter, Caroline Sawyer Ward, Mobile; his son Jesse Richard Sawyer and his wife, Karen Kavanagh Sawyer; two sisters, Ann Sawyer, and Mary Allen; his brother, Buddy Sawyer; his brother-in-law, Dr. Robert W. Turbeville, his two grandsons, Robert Curtis Ward and Christopher Lee Ward.
The family is very grateful, and wishes to thank Roselyn White, who has assisted Mr. Sawyer and his daughter for the last year and a half, caring for his needs and final days. She has become his other daughter here on earth.
A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at 2:30pm, Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1900 Dauphin St, in Mobile. The family will receive friends at 1:30pm until service time.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to his grandson’s memorial, The Nicholas Richard Sawyer Memorial Fund, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 202 Gordon Drive, Decatur Alabama. Notes of condolence may be expressed at hughesfh.com. Arrangements are by Hughes Funeral Home & Crematory, 7951 American Way, Daphne, AL.