Memorial Service for Director Lemuel Wade to be Held April 19, 2015

lem triple

On December 22, 2014, my dear beautiful friend, director Lem Wade, lost his battle with Lymphoma. His untimely death created an impossibly large void – an abyss in the lives of all who knew him.

We will celebrate Lem’s life and work in a memorial service April 19, 2015 at 7pm at Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, 155 E 22nd St, New York, NY 10010, in Manhattan. Musical excerpts from Lem’s recent directorial works will be rendered by friends, and family members and colleagues will share remarks and memories. All are welcome.

“ Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, that we still are. lem wade chs
Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Pray, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was,
let it be spoken without effect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was;
there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.
All is well.”

Henry Scott Holland 1847-1918
Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedra

Excerpts of Richard Pearson Thomas’s Opera, “Blood of Angels” this weekend at Manhattan School of Music

p2spro (2)The society is coming apart at the seams. What good is it doing to force these situations when white people nowhere in the South want integration? What this country needs is a few first-class funerals…1

—    George Wallace, September 5, 1963

Richard Pearson Thomas’s opera, Blood of Angels, dramatizes the political life of George C. Wallace set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. To be electedWALLACE governor of Alabama, George Wallace discards his original belief in equality and embraces the language of segregation.  His rhetoric has disastrous effects, evidenced by the brutal beatings of The Children’s March and the deaths of four young girls in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church.2

The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was a turning point in the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. and was a catalyst for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. An act of white supremacist terrorism, the bombing occurred Sunday, September 15, 1963, when four members of the Ku Klux Klan planted sticks of dynamite underneath the front steps of the church.3

Described by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as “one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity,”4 the explosion at the church killed four young girls and injured 22 others. The explosion was so intense that one of the girls’ bodies was decapitated and so CHURCH-BOMBING apbadly mutilated in the explosion that her body could only be identified through her clothing and a ring, whereas another victim had been killed by a piece of mortar embedded in her skull. The then-pastor of the church, Reverend John Cross, would recollect in 2001 that the girls’ bodies were subsequently found “stacked on top of each other, clung together.”5

The four girls killed in the attack were Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Carole Robertson (age 14), Cynthia Wesley (age 14) and Carol Denise McNair (age 11).6  Some civil rights activistsbombing 2 blamed George Wallace, the Governor of Alabama and an outspoken segregationist, for creating the climate that had led to the killings. (One week prior to the bombing, Wallace said in an interview with a The New York Times journalist that, in order to stop racial integration, he believed Alabama needed a “few first-class funerals.”7).

bombing 5

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. indeed informed Wallace via telegram of his belief that “the blood of four little children …is on your hands. Your irresponsible and misguided actions have created in Birmingham and Alabama the atmosphere that has induced continued violence and now murder.”8



Photo Credits: 1, Stock photo of George Wallace, 1964; 2, Associated Press; 3, Corbis Images; 4, Horace Cort / AP