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Jerry Louis Alber, 82, died quietly on March 5th, 2023, at his home in Taos New Mexico, in the company of his decades-long companion Robert Stewart. Jerry’s death may have ended (or perhaps not) a lifelong search for transcendence every bit as notable as that of the protagonist of Somerset Maugham’s novel The Razor’s Edge. It took him to India to study for years in an ashram, and to a monastery in Oklahoma where he lived a life of privation and worship, and it motivated his immersion in religious music, which for him was a matter of deep spirit, with J.S Bach as its foremost priest. Jerry’s spiritual pursuits shaped his life. Friends and family alike regarded him as a model of serenity, equanimity, kindness, and patience.
Jerry was born to parents Sidney Irvin Alber and Cemira Kiser Alber, on November 8th, 1940, in South Bend, Indiana. He was weaned on music, his father being an amateur and sometime-professional musician. Jerry proved to be a music prodigy. Piano lessons transformed into organ lessons, and he was already an accomplished church organist and performer by high school. He graduated from Hoopeston Area High School in Hoopeston, Illinois in 1959.
In 1960, Jerry entered the United States Army and spent most of the next three years in Berlin listening to radio transmissions from across the newly built Berlin Wall. While in Berlin Jerry continued his studies by seeking out German pipe organ masters. On his honorable discharge from active duty in the Army in 1963, Jerry began pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington Illinois. Jerry earned his degree in 1966 and served as the principal pipe organist for commencement and for other university functions as well, including the funeral of former Illinois Governor and United Nations ambassador Adlai Stevenson II.
After graduation and a 10-year stint in India and Oklahoma, Jerry took up a career as a church organist and music director and pursued that path until the mid-1980s, when he became a computer programmer for a church services vendor, where he remained until moving to Albuquerque in 2003 to play for the Shrine of Saint Bernadette. Eventually, Jerry settled in Taos, where he continued playing for church services part-time.
Always adept at technology, Jerry built a succession of electronic multi-manual pipe organ synthesizers over the years and played them devotedly until shortly before his death.
Jerry is survived by sisters Cemira Kay Alber of Denver, Colorado, and Margaret Ann Spinks of Flower Mound, Texas, and by brothers John Alber of Apalachicola, Florida, James Alber of South Bend, Indiana, and Michael Alber of Incline Village, Nevada.
The family of Jerry Louis Alber has entrusted the care of their loved one to DeVargas Funeral Home of Taos. 866-657-4019 www.devargastaos.com
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