Brunswick - Charles Olegar, 70, died on December 26 at home in the loving care of his life partner Jane Williams, after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. Born in Akron, Ohio to the late George and Ursula Olegar, he was also predeceased by his brother George.
Charles discovered his life’s work a nd passion playing the organ in church at age 15. After attending Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Akron, graduate studies at Kent State University, and the Royal School of Church Music, he moved to Michigan where he founded British-style boy choirs that traveled throughout the United States, Canada, and England. He also served as music critic for local newspapers there.
A nationally known organist, conductor and choir director, Charles played at churches and cathedrals throughout the Midwest and South before moving to Troy, N.Y. in 2002, where he became organist and choirmaster at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, St. James in Great Barrington, and Old First Church in Bennington. In later years he performed regular organ concerts in Great Barrington and Stockbridge and also recorded and produced CDs for local musicians.
While in Vermont, he created “Music at Waller Hall”, a performance studio for regional musicians, and he showcased them on his weekly classical music radio program on WBTN.
Many of his students and choristers became professional musicians and music teachers. A member of his last choir wrote, “What a privilege it was to participate in that wonderful process of striving to make something beautiful and divine”.
The purest of souls, Charles was known for his love of classic cars, long passionate and intelligent letters, dapper dress, and affection for his dogs.
A service of celebration and remembrance will be held in the Spring. Please consider contributions in his honor to the Grand Rapids Choir of Men and Boys which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year at GRCMB, PO Box 6152, Grand Rapids, MI 49516.
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