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Cape Chorale honors ‘Mr. Barbershop’

By Staff | Apr 24, 2015

The world of barbershop harmony singing lost a treasure on March 8, 2015 when Dick Sturgeon, 89, passed away.

For 22 years, his high tenor voice had enriched the Cape Chorale barbershop organization. For this reason, and in honor of his 62 year membership in the national Barbershop Harmony Society, the Cape Chorale members dedicated their performance at the statewide barbershop convention to his memory.

The annual convention, held in Orlando on April 11, featured a competitive runoff of choruses and quartets in the state – something Sturgeon relished. This year, the singers from the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area finished with a two position improvement over last year while competing with perennial powerhouse groups from Miami and Jacksonville among others.

In his earlier years in Indiana, Sturgeon had sung with The Hartsmen, the Speed Capitol Chorus and later the Circle City Sound. Retiring to Fort Myers Beach in 1987, he co-directed the Naples Neapolitans.

Sturgeon became a charter member of the Cape Coral chapter upon its inception in 1993. He sang with many quartets through the years, the last being The SunSations of the Cape Chorale.

He and his wife Alice were married 50 years. She shares his love of music, having sung with the Sweet Adelines for 30 years before retiring. In 1987 she joined the Fort Myers City of Palms chorus and subsequently became a charter member of today’s Spirit of the Gulf. She also sang with the Indianapolis Symphony Chorus and the Southwest Florida Symphony.

Early this year, failing health ended Sturgeon’s long singing career. Last month, many members of the a capella singing community attended his memorial service and sang several numbers in his honor.

“I had never seen a memorial service where all attendees broke out in four part harmony to honor the deceased,” said Hope Hospice Chaplain Rankin McGougan.

The memorial bulletin read, “It is a rare opportunity to be entertained at a memorial service by the deceased. All prerecorded music heard today is as performed by Richard Sturgeon. Harmonizing was his passion and he would want his life to be celebrated with song.”

“Dick, or ‘The Fish’ as he was affectionately known to his fellow singers, could sing and listen,” said Dave Barton, director of the Cape Chorale for 14 years before retiring last year. “He lent a critical ear and voice to ensure all four harmony sections sang in tune. Dick was faithful. If he missed a rehearsal or chorus job, he was either away or ill. He was a first-class member of the Cape Chorale.”

Mike Joynt of Naples observed: “I am sure Dick is organizing a quartet in heaven right now.”

In addition to his muscial endevors, Sturgeon was a jack of all trades. He served in the Army Air Corps, then received an MA in education. He taught industrial arts for 34 years, was a barber, an insurance and real estate agent, a masseur at a Miami hotel, and worked on the Grand Coulee dam.

His love of travel took him to all 50 states. He fished in Alaska and Canada. He attended his first auto race in 1937 and became an avid fan, serving as a USAC official timer for the Indy 500 race for decades.

Source: Cape Chorale