ALBANY -- Roland Samber, 86, died on Thursday, September 1, 2011 at Phoebe Putney Sumter Hospital. Funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, September 9, 2011 at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Albany, GA.
Roland Samber was born in Key West, Florida on November 22, 1924 to parents William J. Samber and Mabel Henzie Samber. They gave birth to William, Ruth, Theron and Roland. He was educated at Fredick Douglas Elementary School in Key West, FL. His parents moved to New York City in 1935, there he attended Douglas Junior High School, after which he attended and graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School.
He began his love of playing the piano while in Douglas Junior High School. He continued to develop his performance skills in piano via the Pappy Quilan Private School of Music in Harlem, NY. Roland went on to major in Piano Music at Howard University where he earned a Baccalaureate Degree.
He decided to share his love of music by teaching other wherever he went. He began his career in Thief River Falls, MN. He was the only African American in the entire town and he was beloved by all. He taught piano, all band instruments, and music appreciation classes and gave private lessons to students from Kindergarten through High School. Roland taught all band instruments: trumpet, trombone, tuba, drums, and flute. Each year he orchestrated events that included a parade and marching band. The town sent for him fifty years later and gave him a parade, where he received the Keys to the City from their mayor in 2008. One of the scheduled events was that his former students of over fifty years ago gave him a piano recital. This and their on-going outpouring of love and event brought tears to his eyes.
The town wrote to Oprah Winfrey and asked that she cover their weekend of celebratory events honoring their favorite teacher ever, Roland Hayes Samber. She let them know they were already committed to other previous filming and would not be able to do so. Several of the School Board Members followed him to New York when he left Minnesota. The stayed with his parents and Roland in their home in St. Albans, NY for a couple of weeks during the summer, two to three summers in a row. Their objective was to try and get him to return to Thief River Falls where their whole town, especially the children, still missed him and all he did for their community.
Next he taught at Albany State College in Albany, GA as a Professor of Music. He taught piano and music appreciation classes for over thirty years, after which he retired. He again influenced his students to love music as much as he did. He also joined a choral group on Albany that was invited to Carnegie Hall in New York where they sang with the Philharmonic Orchestra.
Roland severed in the Army and was a WWII veteran with an honorable discharge. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Albany, GA. Following his brother, William's, suggestion he got a GI loan and purchased the home he had in Albany, GA.
Roland has played piano in several churches throughout Albany. His present church is Bethel A.M.E. Church, where Rev. Ernest Davis, Jr. is the Pastor. He attended this church and played piano and organ for over twenty years/ He was pianist for Choir #1, was very active in the Local Lay Organization of the church and the Sons of Allen, which is their Men's Ministry.
He is survived by his oldest brother, William A. Samber, Sr.; aunt, Gertrude McKenzie; nieces, Joyce Samber, Sharon Samber-Keeling and Charlotte McKenzie; nephews, William A. Samber, Jr. and Roland McKenzie; extended family members, Carliss Smith and Rosalind O'Neal; dear friends Rosa Hilson and her mother Lizzie Walker, Aida Marshall, Larry Ellingson; friends from Minnesota; and a host of cousins and friends.
Meadows Funeral Home