Samuel Russell Cosby Jr., 97, a music teacher, choral director and organist, died April 27 of a heart attack at his home in Mt. Airy.
When he retired in 1993, Mr. Cosby had been a music teacher and choir director for more than four decades in the Philadelphia School District. For most of that time he had directed the choir at William Penn High School, and, more recently, at Bodine High School for International Affairs and at the Clarence E. Pickett Middle School.
During the 1959-1960 school year, he participated in a teacher exchange program between William Penn High School and Latymer Upper School in London, for which he was commended by the Philadelphia School District.
Raised in the East Oak Lane section of Philadelphia, Mr. Cosby’s musical talent became apparent early, when at the age of 19, after graduating from Central High School, he became the organist at Mt. Olivet Tabernacle Baptist Church in West Philadelphia, a position he held for 74 years.
He received a bachelor’s degree in music education from what is now West Chester University in 1944, then studied voice at the Juilliard School of Music. By 1950 he had earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in voice, and did further study in music at Columbia and Yale universities.
He was a member of the National Association of Negro Musicians Inc., Opera North, the W. Russell Johnson Music Guild and other musical and cultural organizations.
A service of remembrance was held May 9 at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church in Philadelphia. – WF