In Memory

Craig Burnell

Craig died, 5/7/2005, after suffering a heart .

Don Craig Burnell, organist and harpsichordist, died May 7, 2005 at Wilson N. Jones Medical Center in Sherman, Texas. He was rushed to the hospital after suffering a heart attack at his home. He was the only child of the late Don W. Burness, geologist, and Mrs. Frankie Burness of Sherman.

Born in Yale, Oklahoma, February 6, 1950, Burnell arrived in Sherman at age five and spent the rest of his educational and professional life in Sherman and Denton. At the time of his death, he had, for nine years, served as organist of the Grand Avenue Presbyterian Church. He was well known in college and church musical circles for his unusual knowledge of history of baroque music as well as performance of such composers as Scarlatti, Bach, Telemann and Krebs. He collected an important library of musical scores and recordings, and kept friends and families reminded, by e-mail, of birth and death dates of famous and less well known composers.

Dr. Richard Tappa, his organ professor at Austin College, identified Mr. Burness as a gifted and generous scholar-musician who combined his devotion to sacred music with a sense of the public good. Burness's annual recitals were used, for example, to attract public support for feeding the hungry. He and Dr. Tappa alternated annual Christmas Eve recitals at Presbyterian churches. "Craig was always well prepared, always available, always ready to serve." his mentor and friend said.

In cooperation with Hugh Moody, choral director of Grand Avenue Presbyterian Church, Burnell took leadership in organizing annual public concerts featuring North Texas artists. They held membership in the Bomar Cramer Music Club, a 79-year old organization named in honor of a famous Texas pianist.

Burnell graduated from Austin College in 1975 after two earlier years at Grayson College and Sherman High School, class of 1968. North Texas State University, Denton, awarded him a Master's Degree in harpsichord. He completed most of the academic requirements for a doctorate.

A member of Trinity Baptist Church, Sherman, Burnell sought to raise liturgical music standards for a variety of denominations in whose churches he performed. He began his musical interests as a child through the influence of his mother, Frankie Lee McCormick Burness, and a paternal aunt who taught music privately in Yale. His mother remembers her son as totally devoted to music above all other pursuits.

Burnell was a desendant of prominent pioneer families who settled in Oklahoma before statehood. He is survived by his mother, and a large number of cousins. He frequently played the organ for family funerals.

Burial will be Wednesday, May 11 in the Yale Cemetery, close to his father, grandparents ad great-grandparents. His father died in 1990.

A memorial service will be held Monday, May 23 at 3 p.m. at the Grand Aveue Presbyterian Church. In honor of Craig's commitment to the poor who are without food, friends are encouraged to discover the blessing of giving. 

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