Mr. Charles Olegar

  • Died: December 26, 2019
  • Location: formerly of Battle Creek, Michigan

Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care

105 Capital Ave NE
Battle Creek, MI 49017

Tel. (269) 962-5527

Tribute & Message From The Family

Charles Olegar, 70, of Brunswick, New York and formerly of Battle Creek died on December 26, 2019 at home in the loving care of his life partner Jane Williams, after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. Born in Akron, Ohio to the late George and Ursula Olegar, he was also preceded in death by his brother George.

Charles discovered his life's work and passion playing the organ in church at age 15. After attending Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Akron, graduate studies at Kent State University, and the Royal School of Church Music, he moved to Michigan where he founded British-style boy choirs that traveled throughout the United States, Canada, and England. He also served as music critic for local newspapers there.

A nationally known organist, conductor and choir director, Charles played at churches and cathedrals throughout the Midwest and South before moving to Troy, N.Y. in 2002, where he became organist and choirmaster at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, St. James in Great Barrington, and Old First Church in Bennington. In later years he performed regular organ concerts in Great Barrington and Stockbridge and also recorded and produced CDs for local musicians.

While in Vermont, he created "Music at Waller Hall", a performance studio for regional musicians, and he showcased them on his weekly classical music radio program on WBTN.

Many of his students and choristers became professional musicians and music teachers. A member of his last choir wrote, "What a privilege it was to participate in that wonderful process of striving to make something beautiful and divine".

The purest of souls, Charles was known for his love of classic cars, long passionate and intelligent letters, dapper dress, and affection for his dogs.

A service of celebration and remembrance will be held in the Spring. Please consider contributions in his honor to the Grand Rapids Choir of Men and Boys which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year at GRCMB, PO Box 6152, Grand Rapids, MI 49516. Personal messages and/or favorite memories of Charles may be placed at

Condolence & Memory Journal

Charles was the most remarkable of teachers. I had the honor of serving as cantor for the Grand Rapids Choir of Men and Boys, and what I learned from Charles, I was able to take into my own classroom later on as a choral music teacher. Charles was my model for what an instructor of young children should be, and I owe a great deal of whatever success I may have achieved to his example. There will never be another like him.

Posted by Alfred Thigpen - Upper Marlboro, MD   January 11, 2020

Wow, seeing all those photos brought back some great cherished memories. Charles was a witty, jovial man, with a passion for music, especially the English tradition of the Men and Boys Choir. He was the best boy trainer I have ever seen. I learned a great deal from him while I learned to develop the Countertenor voice. First, with the Battle Creek Boychoir, then with GRCMB in Grand Rapids, where I still sing. He left us a wonderful legacy in Grand Rapids, and Scott Bosscher, Martin Neary, Richard Webster, and Andrew Nesthingha (who is bringing his entire Choir from St John's in March) have all been in residence. I am sure Charles would have been thrilled by all of it. It's a passion we all share. Thank you Charles for sharing your gifts with all of us, especially the England trip in 1995. You will not be forgotten. "I have marbles in my mouth."

Affectionately, Jay Roback

Posted by Jay Roback - Jackson, MI   January 03, 2020

Posted by Alan Young    January 03, 2020

Posted by Alan Young    January 03, 2020

Posted by Alan Young    January 03, 2020

Posted by Alan Young    January 03, 2020

Posted by Alan Young - Ann Arbor, MI   January 03, 2020

Charles taught me to not to just listen to music but to love it with my fellow choristers. Such a profound and positive impact the GR Boys Choir had on my life. Sorry to see this gentle giant leave us.

Posted by Cameron Jones - Winter Garden, FL   December 31, 2019