Professor Emeritus Henry J. Santos
Professor Emeritus Henry J. Santos, beloved husband of the former Leola Waters Santos and
devoted father of Nancy Santos Gainer, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, March 11, at the
age of 92, in West Chester, PA after a courageous battle with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Professor Emeritus Henry J. Santos graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music
from Boston University. He taught music for over 30 years at Bridgewater State University in
Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and was instrumental in the development of the University’s music
major. In addition to his formal training as a concert pianist and a composer, Professor Santos
completed advanced study in composition with Hugo Norden and conducting with Alan Lannon.
He performed in Paris, France; continued study in Lugano, Switzerland; and studied at Harvard
Professor Santos was a semifinalist in The First Louis Moreau Gottschalk Competition for
Pianists and Composers sponsored by the Pan-American Union, and was selected to perform a
prize-winning work for piano and orchestra. In addition to classical piano recitals, chamber
music programs and appearances with orchestras, he performed at the Inter-American
Conference on Black Music Research in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He also performed at Harvard
University’s Sanders Theatre with the late Elmer Dickey, three-time winner of the Marion
Anderson Singer Competition. Professor Santos also served as a studio accompanist for Roland
Hayes, the noted black concert tenor, in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Also a composer, Professor Santos’ Leola was performed by the music ensemble Videmus at
Sanders Theatre. His Psalm 64, which is dedicated to his friend and college roommate Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr., was performed in Providence at the State House for the first celebration of MLK
Day in Rhode Island. His composed music was featured in Boston on Ron della Chiesa’s Music
America, WGBH-FM (NPR); Dave MacNeil’s program on WCRB-FM; as well as Grace Lee Mills’
program on WLLV-FM in Cleveland, Ohio.
Professor Santos was known widely as a scholar for his research on musicians of color who were
trained in the classical tradition. During his sabbatical, he traveled to Tulane University to secure
copies of the original sheet music written by these little known 19th century composers who
played in the elite ballrooms and private ‘salons’ of New Orleans. One of Professor Santos’ last
concerts, which drew hundreds from the South Shore community, was dedicated to the
performance of these original works by such gifted composers as Basile Bares, Edmond Dede,
Lucien Lambert, Sidney Lambert, and others.
Acclaimed for his expertise, Professor Santos has been featured in numerous scholarly
publications, including Reflections on Afro-American Music (The Kent State University Press),
Keyboard Music of Black Composers, String Music of Black Composers, and others. In honor of
all his services, the Henry Santos Scholarship has been awarded annually to a Bridgewater State
University student since 2004.
Prior to his teaching on the college-level, Professor Santos taught piano and served as
accompanist and soloist for performances in the music department at the world-renowned
Perkins School for the Blind in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Some of his students from Perkins
have been actor Tom Sullivan, whose biography, If You Can See What I Hear, was made into a
movie; Ellis Hall, who played with Earth, Wind & Fire and was working with Ray Charles and
Jamie Foxx prior to Charles’ death; David Crohan, who performs professionally in Palm Beach,
Florida and on Martha’s Vineyard; and Michael Markaveritch, a successful pianist.
Professor Emeritus Henry J. Santos is survived by his daughter, Nancy Santos Gainer; son-in-law,
Curtis Gainer; and three grandsons, Henry Lee Gainer, age 21; Terrence Maxwell Gainer, age 18;
and Marcus Anthony Gainer, age 18.
Funeral services will take place in West Chester, PA, and Middleboro, MA:
On Saturday, March 14, a viewing will take place 3-4 p.m., followed by a funeral service at 4
p.m. at the United Methodist Church of West Chester, 129 South High Street, West Chester, PA.
On Wednesday (March 18, 2020) a viewing and intimate gathering of immediate family and close friends only will be held from 6 until 8 p.m. only in the O’Neill Funeral Home, 59 Peirce Street, Middleboro. At 7:15 p.m. during the viewing, dear friend Mr. Louis Ricciardi will deliver the eulogy.
Social distancing will be observed. We are adhering to government guidelines concerning attendance. The Santos family appreciates your love and support. Online condolences are sincerely appreciated.
Funeral services (for immediate family and close friends) will be held on Thursday, March 19 at 2 PM in the Massachusetts National Cemetery.
A Memorial Service will be held at a later date. Flowers are welcome.
Donations to the Henry Santos Scholarship may also be made at Bridgewater State University.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Professor Henry J. Santos, please visit our floral store.