ONEONTA – Dr. Charles C. Burnsworth, Professor Emeritus of Music at SUNY Oneonta passed away at home surrounded by his loving family on July 8, 2022.
Born on June 27, 1931, he was the son of Carl and Priscilla (Skerritt) Burnsworth of Niagara Falls. He married the former Carole Scranton of Schoharie on December 27, 1959. Together, they were fortunate to be blessed with fifty-seven years of a wonderful marriage. She died on July 2, 2016.
Dr. Burnsworth was a graduate of SUNY Fredonia, the University of Illinois and Boston University. He also earned diplomas from San Diego State College and Westminster Choir College. While serving in the Army, he was specially selected to attend the Navy School of Music in Washington, D.C., from which he also earned a diploma. While there, he was a paid member of the National Presbyterian Church Choir where President Eisenhower was a regular attendee. While at Boston University, Dr. Burnsworth studied conducting with Richard Burgin, concert-master of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and he was also a student and performer under the famous choral conductor Robert Shaw, at both San Diego and at Westminster Choir College.
Dr. Burnsworth first taught at LaSalle High School in Niagara Falls and subsequently joined the faculty of SUNY Oneonta in 1957 where he served for forty-five years. Part of that service was as Chairman of the Music Department during the Department’s semi- infancy. For fifteen years, he was the conductor of the college’s Women’s Glee Club which toured annually and which performed numerous joint concerts with the leading college Men’s Choirs in the East. He also led three choir concert tours to Europe with various ensembles. As a choral conductor, he frequently served as a guest conductor at various sites throughout the state, and served for a number of years on the Executive Council of the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) and as the association’s parliamentarian. He also served the state organization as an adjudicator for choir and solo competitions for nearly 30 years.
In addition to his arranging talents, Dr. Burnsworth was also the author of several publications in two music journals, and also authored a book on women’s choral literature which was published by Scarecrow Press.
Intensely interested in local community affairs, Dr. Burnsworth served on the city’s Public Safety Commission, the Common Council for eight years as an elected alderman, was President of the Oneonta Kiwanis Club, served on the Advisory Board of the Oneonta Job Corp plus the original Directors group of UCCA, was a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Board of the Salvation Army for 50 plus years and on the Board of Directors of the Oneonta Country Club.
One of the original organizers of the Oneonta Youth Soccer League, he was also a co-founder of the Community Chorale (now the Catskill Choral Society) which he conducted for seven years, and was at one time a trumpet player in the original Oneonta Symphony Orchestra. An avid golfer, he played golf at more than 100 courses, both here and abroad and was a member of both the Oneonta Country Club and Seven Springs Country Club in New Port Richey, Florida.
His teaching responsibilities at the college were many and varied, including two courses with unusually large enrollments, but he was best known for his choral conducting skills and for instituting a course in the History of Rock Music; one of the first such courses to be offered by any University in the country. That expertise in turn, led to his developing a series of special presentations about rock music and a documentary of the Beatles, which he presented at more than 80 colleges and in over 200 public schools. His biography appears in a large number of “Who’s Who” compilations.
In 2008, former members of his Women’s Glee Club raised over $25,000 to establish a scholarship in his name at SUNY Oneonta, and in 2009, he was inducted into the College’s Music Department Hall of Fame.
Survivors include, daughter, Kathy Lazarovich and her husband, Paul of Cape Cod and their daughters, Meaghan (Jon) and Shannon; son, David and his daughter, Avery and son, Owen, of Oneonta; a granddaughter, Samantha, of Cape Cod, and a grandson, Ian of New Port Richey, Florida. He is also survived by dear friend Inez Vagliardo who lovingly cared for him. Charles was predeceased by his son, Kevin.
All are invited to attend a brief memorial service on July 24th at 4:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 296 Main Street, Oneonta with light refreshments in the social hall following the service.
In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to the Salvation Army or the SUNY Oneonta Charles C. Burnsworth Scholarship by visiting www.oneontaalumni.com/tribute or by check with “Burnsworth Scholarship” in the Memo line. Check payable to: “College at Oneonta Foundation”, Division of College Advancement, 308 Netzer Administration Building, 108 Ravine Parkway, Oneonta, NY 13820.
Online condolences, stories and photos may be shared at, www.lhpfuneralhome.com, the website of Oneonta’s only family owned funeral home, Lewis, Hurley & Pietrobono, at 51 Dietz Street.