Gwendolyn Lightner, 74, who as a Los Angeles pianist and musical director for church choirs was a dynamic and pioneering figure in the evolution of gospel music on the West Coast, died of cancer Aug. 22 in Los Angeles.
Ms. Lightner served as pianist for the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. for more than five decades and was director of music for the Western Baptist State Convention.
The Illinois native attended Southern Illinois University and the Lyon and Healy Academy of Music in Chicago. After finishing her classical training in the early 1940s, she became interested in gospel music through contacts with gospel giants such as Kenneth Morris, Roberta Martin and Emma Jackson, who also lived in Chicago.
Byron Benton Burnes
Byron Benton Burnes, 95, who became deaf from complications from influenza and chicken pox when he was 15 and went on to serve as president of the National Association of the Deaf from 1946 to 1964, died Aug. 25 in Martinez, Calif. The cause of death was not reported.
Mr. Burnes, known as "B.B.B.," taught at the California School for the Deaf in Berkeley for 28 years. He also taught at the Minnesota, Colorado and South Dakota schools for the deaf.