John Starr, a longtime Maryland musician, had just sung “Amazing Grace” at a Catholic church in Bethesda on Easter. He was on his way home to Annapolis when he stopped to buy some cheese in Bowie, according to his girlfriend, Helen Brockmeyer.

About 10:30 p.m., Starr was at a red light near Route 301 and Harbor Way when a car crashed into his vehicle from behind, according to a preliminary investigation. Starr, 68, died at the scene. The other driver, Elizabeth Davis, 70 — the president of the Washington Teachers’ Union — was taken to a hospital, where she died.

Brockmeyer said she had heard from one of Starr’s friends at the church service about his moving performance Sunday night.

“It’s like it was his gift before he left,” Brockmeyer said.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Starr was on the road most nights, traveling to perform somewhere. His family said he played the flute, bass, saxophone and an electronic wind synthesizer. Starr was also a songwriter and singer.

On Facebook, Liz Fixsen wrote of how Starr would often participate in a Wednesday night jam session at 49 West, a restaurant in Annapolis.

“He could play anything, either by heart or by ear, in any key, without breaking a sweat,” Fixsen wrote.

Starr’s death came just two months after his older sister died of a heart attack, according to his brother-in-law, Joe Turner. His sister, Leslie Elena Starr, was an oboe player with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra.

Their father sang in church choirs in the Annapolis area and their mother played the piano, according to relatives and friends.

Starr sang a piece he wrote about his older sister at her virtual memorial service.

“He played the kind of music that made people feel happy,” Turner said. “He was the nicest person and incredibly talented. . . . He was very good at what he did.”

Starr was also a music teacher at a private school in Annapolis.

Carmen Procida said that she lived in the same building as Starr for several years and that he taught her son’s jazz band at the Key School in Annapolis.

“He was very patient,” she said. “He was a great musician and very knowledgeable.” He was a very sweet guy.”

J. Ernest Green, the artistic director of Live Arts MD and the choirmaster and music director at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis, said he and Starr became friends more than 35 years ago when Starr was on the board of directors of what was then a newly formed community chorus group, Annapolis Chorale. The group often performed music that Starr had written.

The two stayed friends.

“Music was his life,” Green said. said of Starr. “He was alive when he was playing.”

Green said Starr liked music because “it connected with him in a way that the normal world did not.”

“He was one of those guys who was brilliant,” Green said.

Green recalled how Starr would call him, sometimes in the wee hours, to talk about music. “He’d say ‘Hey, check this out,’ and he’d be playing the piano version of something he had just written.”

Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.