Charles H. Zacharias

1943 -

Charles Zacharias, keyboard and instrumental director at Georgia-Cumberland Academy from 1996 to 2008, retired in the fall of 2008, after a 37-year career in music. In addition to teaching piano and instrument lessons at GCA, he directed the concert band, string orchestra, and handbell choir. During his leadership, these instrumental groups toured to Washington, D.C., Chicago, Toronto, and Philadelphia.

Charles was born in DeQueen, Arkansas. He started lessons at age seven and while in elementary school studied piano with June McManaman at Sunnydale Academy for two years. During this time she took him to a pipe organ concert, an inspiring event that sparked a lifelong interest in organ. While attending Ozark Academy in Arkansas in his junior and senior years, he took his first organ lessons, while continuing study on piano, and also sang in choir and male quartets.

In 1962 Zacharias enrolled at Southwestern Union College, now Southwestern Adventist University, where he studied piano and music theory with Vinson and Anne Bushnell and organ with Wilbur Schram. He met his future wife BeVerly (Jeri) Lemon during this time. After graduating from SUC, he went to Walla Walla College, now University, where he continued piano lessons with Blythe Owen and Bruce Ashton and organ lessons with Melvin West. He was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honor society, as a senior and graduated with a B.Mus. in music education in 1967.

Hoping to avoid the military draft, Zacharias immediately started graduate study in music theory at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland. After finishing coursework for the degree, he was drafted into the army. While in basic training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, he was immediately pressed into service playing the piano and organ for religious services on Sabbaths and Sundays. Later, while training to be a medic, he was asked to form a marching band to lead his unit to classes every day. This experience started his career as a band director.

Zacharias later worked for nine months on a psychiatric ward at Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco, and then completed his military duty by serving in Vietnam in a heavy artillery unit. He continued to play the organ for services throughout his military service. After his discharge from the Army in 1971, Zacharias accepted the position of band and keyboard instructor at Pioneer Valley Academy in Massachusetts and developed a highly successful band program. While at PVA, he completed an M.Mus. in theory at Peabody in 1976.

In 1977 the Zachariases were asked to run the music department at the newly built Dakota Adventist Academy in Bismarck, North Dakota. Three years later, they accepted music positions at Union Springs Academy in New York, where they worked for the next fourteen years. From 1979 through 1983 Charles and Jeri attended Andrews University in the summers and completed master's degrees in music education. Charles studied instruments with Pat Silver and Lennart Olson, and piano with Morris Taylor. He received the Zapara Award for Excellence in Teaching at USA In 1992.

In 1994, the Zachariases took a two-year leave from teaching to work in music merchandising at Ogden Music Company in Portland, Oregon. While there, he became involved with selling and installing Johannus Organs. When Charles was invited to teach at Georgia-Cumberland Academy in 1996, Jeri established a home studio and became a teacher at the Creative Arts Guild in nearby Dalton, Georgia.

 Zacharias serves as organist at the First Baptist Church in Calhoun, GA, and, on Sabbaths, he shares organist duties at the Georgia-Cumberland Academy Seventh-day Adventist Church with his wife Jeri. The Zachariases also operate Johannus of Georgia, Inc., a dealership representing Johannus Organs in Georgia, Alabama, and eastern Tennessee.


Sources: Information provided by Charles Zacharias, 2008; personal knowledge.