Obituary - Henry Cragin Burrows (1923-2010)

Henry Cragin Burrows of Clam Harbour, Nova Scotia, died on November 28, 2010 after a sudden, brief illness.  If any death can be called “untimely”  at the age of 87, Hank's death was untimely.  Two days before his illness struck, Hank was sketching out project ideas to enhance his home, his garden and his world.  Although legally blind for nearly a decade he remained passionately involved in music, especially organ and choral music.  He was a generous teacher of all things musical and an eternally ardent student.  A man of deep integrity, courage and wisdom, he lavished love and compassionate care on his wife, Barbara, and his extensive “family of heart.”  He worked tirelessly to leave a vibrant legacy of music on the Eastern Shore, to restore his tiny corner of the Acadian forest,  to foster respect for our fragile planet, to rebuild his beloved Haiti, and to promote intelligent, visionary and humane leadership in all spheres.

Born near Boston in 1923, Hank was raised in Exeter, New Hampshire.  He paid for his piano and organ lessons during the Depression by cleaning houses and weeding gardens, and became a professional organist at 16.  He majored in music and history at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he studied organ with Claire Coci and Arthur Poister. 

His college education was interrupted by four years in the American army, which included a stint in the elite ski troops, as well as improbable training as a chemical warfare officer.  Hank always marvelled at the brilliance of the military mind, to take a musician who had never had a course in chemistry in his life, and place him in chemical warfare.  Hank's last army posting was a year with the occupation forces in the sacred city of Kyoto, Japan.  After graduation from Oberlin in 1949 he taught at Athens College in Greece for two years, then entered Harvard Divinity School in preparation for becoming a priest in the Episcopal  (Anglican) Church. 

Hank worked in several parishes in the New York area, and was ordained deacon in 1959 in Garden City, Long Island.  Immediately he was invited to begin a music ministry in Haiti by Bishop Alfred Voegeli, the visionary bishop who had encouraged Haitian artists to paint astonishing murals on the interior walls of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince.  These murals, now mostly destroyed in the earthquake in January, can be viewed hereFollow the link to The Art of Sainte Trinite.  The Smithsonian Institution is involved in rescuing the surviving murals and Hank supported this effort wholeheartedly.  Visit "In Haiti: the Art of Resilience."

Hank was ordained priest at Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Haiti in 1960.   For a year he worked as administrator of College St. Pierre, with the lycee's principal Roger Jean, father of Michaelle Jean, the future Governor-General of Canada.  Bishop Voegeli arranged to have an organ installed in the cathedral to support the music ministry.  Hank chose a magnificent Rieger organ, which served for nearly 50 years. 

While the organ was being designed and installed, Hank established several choirs.  The children's choir, Les Petits Chanteurs, has travelled extensively throughout North America for years, and was about to celebrate its 50th anniversary last January when the earthquake struck Haiti.  Hank was deeply affected by the catastrophe, but was greatly heartened to learn that nearly all of Les Petits Chanteurs survived, and gave their first concert in a tent camp three weeks afterward.  He and his dear friend, Sr. Anne-Marie of the Society of Saint Margaret, knew that “music was food for the soul,” and important even in horrific times.  Hank served in Haiti for seven years, through the worst of the Duvalier terror.  He maintained enormous respect and love for the unwavering spirit and dignity of the Haitian people.

After Haiti, Hank attended the Dalcroze School of Music in New York, and served for seven years in the wonderfully diverse and creative parish of St. Luke's-in-the-Fields in Greenwich Village.   In 1974 Hank met Barbara, his wife-to-be, and moved to Toronto, where they married in 1976.  

As co-director of the Centre for the Whole Person in Toronto he specialized in Music and Consciousness sessions.  Hank had previously studied the use of music as a propellant to enhance consciousness.  He had been selected for the professional training  program developed by Dr. Stanislav Grof  and his talented team at the Spring Grove Psychiatric Research Centre (associated with Johns Hopkins University) in Maryland.   Part of the training involved a number of therapeutic LSD sessions, which Hank acknowledged as transformational.  He did additional training with the gifted music therapist, Helen Bonny, originator of the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music.

Hank and Barbara moved to Nova Scotia in 1983,when Hank was 60 years old.  He taught piano and developed an innovative course called The Language of Music.  He founded Musical Friends, the community chorus of the Eastern Shore, in which music, laughter and warmth have supported musicality and resilient friendships for twenty-five years.  He nurtured younger musicians and music teachers in many ways. 

Most recently he was playing with the possibility of a brass choir based on the Eastern Shore.  Hank lived out his deeply-felt experience that music, vibration and true spirituality are profoundly connected.  He was a member of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Eastern Shore Forest Watch, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  He was looking forward to the Christmas choral concert sung by the extraordinary King's College Halifax Chapel Choir, and to the new Harry Potter movie.

Hank was pre-deceased by his parents, Harry and Cecile (Crandall) Burrows, as well as by half-brothers George, “Sam” and Bill.  His loss is deeply grieved and his life is greatly celebrated by wife Barbara Markovits, beloved niece and nephew Sarah and Tom Burrows; special nephews Joel Markovits (Brian Monroe), Alan Markovits (Gilda), and members of the extended Burrows family, as well as a huge “family of heart.”  You know who you are. 

The family is grateful to Dr. Lisa Bonang, to the first responders of the Oyster Pond Fire Volunteer Fire Department, and to the dedicated medical team at the Dartmouth General Hospital for doing their best for our Hank.  Arimathea Funeral Cooperative cared for Hank's body with respect and dignity.  A graveside service was held on Tuesday 30 November at the Clam Harbour Cemetery, graciously conducted by the Rev. Katie Tait.  Pallbearers accompanying Hank on his final journey were Allan Banks, Tom Burrows, Terry Hawtin, Sarah Turner-Hawtin, Ria Hodgson, Seldon Keating, and Joel Markovits.  Dear friends prepared the gravesite and organized a reception at Memory Lane Heritage Village, Lake Charlotte, and the family is profoundly appreciative of their presence and generosity of spirit.

Donations may be made in Hank's memory to the Oyster Pond Volunteer Fire Department, Oyster Pond/Jeddore  NS  B0J 1W0;  Eastern Shore Forest Watch Association, Comp. 10, Site 2, R.R.#2, Jeddore NS B0J 1P0;  Eastern Shore Volunteer Food Bank, c/o Darlene Myers, 9411 Highway #7, Jeddore NS B0J 1P0; or the worthy cause of your choice.  

In the United States, donations may be made to the Society of Saint Margaret  with funds directed to Haiti, or to the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.

Other ways to honour Hank are to plant a tree (a native species of our Acadian forest); to speak out for social and planetary justice; to enjoy an organ recital or choral concert; or  to join  with others and sing until you vibrate with joy.

Website updated 16 September 2016
EasternShore Forest Watch Association:  info@forestwatch.ca
General Delivery, Head of Jeddore, Nova Scotia, B0J 1P0, Canada