Wayne Putney Thurber

1923 - 1990

Although the main focus of Wayne Thurber's career and life was in the ministry and educational administration, he was also deeply involved in music throughout his life. This interest in music was deeply ingrained since he had grown up in a musical family, one of three children born to Leon and Julia Thurber.

His mother was one of five musical sisters who often sang as soloists and in various combinations at camp meetings and churches all over New England. His father was an amateur violinist who also sang tenor. In the Thurber home, the coming of Sabbath was met quietly and meditatively as the sun set. They would gather around the piano as a family and celebrate with the singing of favorite hymns.

Throughout his school years he participated in music, singing in choirs and male quartets. Following graduation from Atlantic Union College, Thurber entered the ministry, serving as a pastor in the Georgia-Cumberland Conference.

In 1949 he accepted an invitation to direct the choral program at Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University, where he worked until 1952. During that time, his brother John came to live with him and his family while he attended college. The two brothers became members of the Adelphian Quartet, a male quartet that was very popular and toured extensively in the region from 1950 to 1952.

In subsequent years, Thurber served as a superintendent of education, youth ministries director, and youth pastor in Mississippi, North Carolina, and Massachusetts. He then served as principal at Golden Gate Academy in Oakland, California, and as youth pastor at Glendale Academy.

He pastored in Texas and Florida and served on the pastoral staff at the Redlands, California, Seventh-day Adventist church and, after retirement, worked part-time in the Corona, California, church. Thurber had also directed the Southeastern California Ministers' Chorus until his retirement.

His son, Donald, continued the family's musical tradition by pursuing music as a major in college and graduate school, where he completed a Ph.D. at the University of North Texas in 1976. He was director of the choral program at La Sierra University for nearly three decades and served as Director of Music Education and Director of Music at the University Church in Loma Linda, California.


Sources: Obituaries, Pacific Union Recorder, unknown date 1990, 8; Adventist Review, 13 September 1990; Interview with Donald Thurber, 1 October 2005.