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Robert Sherwin Alexander
July 23, 1932 ~ January 15, 2024 (age 91) 91 Years Old
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Robert Sherwin Alexander died peacefully at home on January 15, 2024. He was born on July 23, 1932, in Sulphur Springs, Texas to Marjorie Allison (Sherwin) Alexander and Robert Pulaski Alexander. His early love for movie musicals led to a life-long passion for Broadway and the Great American Songbook, which he shared as a pianist at countless productions, parties, and evenings around the keyboard. After receiving his masters in piano from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, Bob served as a typist in the army in Stuttgart, Germany.
In 1955, Bob moved to New York City and started a career in music publishing which spanned 40 years, first at the Brill Building with Hill & Range and Elvis Presley Music, and continuing at Warner Brothers Music, Bourne Co., and SESAC, a songwriter’s association. In his early years in the city, Bob and his music partner wrote songs for George Furth and others in the cabaret scene. They created an original musical called Come Mornin’, about the small town of Boomer, where Aunt Bea comes back as an angel to grant wishes for “everyone who gets their mail at the post office.”
Bob met his future wife, Marian Lucille Dillinger, when he answered a newspaper ad for an apartment for rent…with piano. Love ensued, making Bob the stepfather of Lucille’s two sons, Jan and Tom Helfeld, of Puerto Rico. In the 60s, Bob and Lucille moved to Packanack Lake in Wayne, NJ and raised their three children, Michael, Mark and Jennifer, in a house filled with books and music. Together, as pianist and music director, Bob and Lucille participated widely in theater productions throughout North Jersey, at the Montclair Operetta Club, the Barn Theatre of Montville, Old Library Theatre of Fair Lawn, the Packanack Players and others.
After retirement, they moved to Middletown, CT, where Bob cared for Lucille until her death in 2002. Bob spent a musical 12 years in Middletown, singing with the Middlesex Hospital Vocal Chords, the Middletuners, and the choir at South Church. He played piano at Oddfellows Playhouse and led sing-alongs at local house parties and area senior centers. He found acting late in life as a member of the Vintage Players, memorably playing a bus driver to the delight of his grandchildren.
At the age of 80, Bob fulfilled his lifelong dream of living in midtown Manhattan, where he filled his calendar with plays, lectures, and cabaret shows. He was such an enthusiastic audience member that at the Broadway production of The Prom, a cast member stopped him on the sidewalk after the show to tell him that his evident joy from the front row had delighted the actors and been a topic of discussion backstage. Bob spent his final years back in Middletown living with his daughter Jennifer and family, and joined by his son Mark, who kept music at the center of Bob’s life as he continued to play piano until his final weeks.
Bob's discerning and eclectic ear for musical theater was undiminished as he aged, ranging from Brel to Sondheim to the newest generation of theater makers; his family and friends will forever be influenced by his taste and passion for his chosen art form.
Bob is survived by his three children, Michael Sherwin Alexander (wife Kelly Thomas, Houston TX), Mark Alexander, and Jennifer Alexander (husband Mark Masselli, Middletown CT) and his and Lucille’s grandchildren, Tai, Beba, Yari, and Teiki Helfeld, and Tenzin, Maggie, Karma and Kobi Masselli, as well as dear friends who shared his love of music, and his childhood friend, Christine Felton of Arlington, TX.
Friends of Bob and the family are invited to call at the family home at 110 Washington Street, Middletown on Saturday, January 27 from 1 to 3 pm. A private burial at Indian Hill Cemetery in Middletown, CT and City Cemetery in Sulphur Springs, TX will be held.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his honor may be made to a cause dear to his heart, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. To share memories or send condolences to the family, please visit www.doolittlefuneralservice.com.