Joyful voices in heavenly choir

Cindy Robinett, the choir director at the Sanctuary at St. Paul’s in South Bend, had to pass out Kleenex instead of sheet music at a recent rehearsal.

She and her St. Paul’s choir found out in a span of a few minutes that they had lost two of their members.

Edwin Waldrop and Larry Morgan, both in their early 90s, died on Feb. 26. Tears, more than the music, flowed that day.

“One of our chaplains, Carole McCollister, came in before our rehearsal and told us about Edwin,” Cindy says. “And then after we had shared some of our memories about Edwin, our other chaplain, Eldon Heatwole, came in and let us know that Larry also had passed away.”

Some of St. Paul’s most beautiful voices suddenly trembled.

“It was very hard on everyone,” Cindy says. “Larry and Edwin were both very important to us and to lose them both on the same day — on the day of a rehearsal — was pretty overwhelming.”

Both Larry Morgan and Edwin Waldrop were part of our Greatest Generation.

Larry was a World War II veteran who took part in three amphibious landings — North Africa, Sicily and Omaha Beach. After a 20-year career in the Army and Air Force, he became an electrician, working his last 17 years at Bendix. He lost his wife Laura in 2006 after 64 years of marriage.

Edwin was a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Yale University and he once owned a business called the President’s Round Table in which 80 company presidents obtained continuing business education from him and his staff. He continued consulting and business counseling into his 80s. He leaves behind his wife Carolyn after 67 years of marriage.

They both loved singing in the St. Paul’s choir. “In their own ways, they added so much,” Cindy says. “Larry had a beautiful voice and performed solos for us. He didn’t need a microphone. He also was such an outgoing guy.”

“Edwin would be the first to admit that he really wasn’t a great singer,” Cindy adds. “His wife Carolyn joined first and he would tag along and watch. But he discovered he loved it, too. He brought his own spark of life to the choir.”

St. Paul’s choir has around 30 members and only about one third of them are men. Now, there are two fewer male members with the next performance coming up on March 19.

Needless to say, the choir didn’t in get much practicing on the day they learned that both Edwin and Larry had died. “Because it was a rehearsal day, I think the news was just that much harder on us,” Cindy says. “We have lost people before but never two in one day.”

Edwin and Larry’s families were so proud of their participation. Edwin’s daughter Elizabeth had videotaped the choir and they were looking forward to the next performance.

And now that performance will be dedicated to them.

“We sang hymns the day that they died and imagined them singing in the celestial choir,” Cindy says.

Larry with his booming voice and Edwin with that twinkle in his eye.

Retired Tribune columnist Bill Moor writes a weekly column for Community. Contact him at

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