Share This Obituary
Paul Edward Oakley Obituary


Memories & Candles

“I first met Paul many years ago when he was a student at Friends University in Wichita, KS. He was one of the most brilliant organists and musicians...Read More »
1 of 31 | Posted by: Steve Cumming - Friend

“In the 80's, I was the proud mom of two daughters who were lucky enough to be Kirksingers at First Presbyterian Church, Springfield, IL. Paul...Read More »
2 of 31 | Posted by: Nancy Legg Buedel - Bradenton, FL

“Rest in Peace, You have inspired and pleases so many with your love for music. Your work will never be forgotten and will be in the hearts of many ”
3 of 31 | Posted by: Marcia DeVoe - Mooresville, NC

“Dear Oakley Family I was saddened to hear of Paul's death. I was a good friend of Michelle's and remember going to Grosse Pointe Park Baptist...Read More »
4 of 31 | Posted by: Pam Jurado - Warren, MI - Friend

“Our family has such fond memories of Paul when he was choir director at First Presbyterian Church in Springfield in the '80's. Our son was in the...Read More »
5 of 31 | Posted by: Susan - Springfield, IL - friend

“Our family grieves as yours does. Paul was a wonderful colleague and we will miss him. May God bless your family in your time of grieving. ”
6 of 31 | Posted by: david schonborg - EASTCHESTER NY, NY

“My deepest condolences to the Paul's family and friends. He was a gifted musician and teacher, and I grew to love him, deeply, as a friend. May God...Read More »
7 of 31 | Posted by: Jocelyn Thompson - Charlotte, NC

“Dear Oakley family. I feel,I have been blessed,in knowing a wonderful person,as Paul. Paul, will certainly be remembered with great...Read More »
8 of 31 | Posted by: Pamela Mallard Williams - Friend

“I was a high school student in one of Paul's choirs back in the 1980s at First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, IL. Almost 30 years later, I still...Read More »
9 of 31 | Posted by: Chandra Gravit - Student

“Oh my dear Paul E. Oakley. While many of your current friends, students, and family do not know me, you and I go as far back as Friends Univercity,...Read More »
10 of 31 | Posted by: Patricio - Wichita, KS - Friend

“Paul's energy and passion in all he did will be missed by so many! We appreciated his friendship. Oh, he could make the music come alive! Our...Read More »
11 of 31 | Posted by: Jennifer Flynn - Salisbury, NC

“Paul was a gift to me at a very dark time in my life. I will always remember two things Paul taught me that continue to give me strength and joy. ...Read More »
12 of 31 | Posted by: Ellen Kreger - Yonkers, NY

“Paul was an amazing Music Director and pianist. I was in awe of his talent. He had great presence and was very passionate. I will always remember his...Read More »
13 of 31 | Posted by: Joan Rudd - Bronxville, NY

“We will always savor the "incredible musical wave that we rode" creating highlights that we will never forget. We send our love and prayers for your...Read More »
14 of 31 | Posted by: George and Evelyn Sonnichsen - OH

“Professor Oakley was a wonderful teacher at the 2012 All-State Music Clinic. I didn't know him long but he easily gained a strong relationship with...Read More »
15 of 31 | Posted by: Jordan A. Speas - Student

“Dennis, our heartfelt sympathy goes out to you and your family at this time of Paul's death. Mike and I both admired Paul's great talent and ...Read More »
16 of 31 | Posted by: Carol and Mike Hipps - MN

“Paul was an inspiring musician and human being. He will be missed. ”
17 of 31 | Posted by: Kris Rust - pittsburgh, PA

“Paul was very generous with his time and with much helpful information when I posted a note on CHoralnet looking for specific music ideas for my...Read More »
18 of 31 | Posted by: Cynthia Mortensen - Minneapolis, MN

“Dear Dennis and Family - I am very sorry to hear about Paul's passing. He was a fantastic conductor and teacher, and I consider him a mentor. Many...Read More »
19 of 31 | Posted by: Thomas Paulson - Wayzata, MN

“Dennis and Family, my heartfelt sympathy goes out to you at this sad time. Please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. ”
20 of 31 | Posted by: Deborah Moore Clark - Charlotte, NC

“Raymond L Cocke and Shawn Baptist Church in Burton, michigan would like to offer our deepest sympathy to Bro Bill and his family, with the passing of...Read More »
21 of 31 | Posted by: Daniel Cocke - flint, MI

“Paul's passing diminishes me in equal measure to how his vibrant and passionate life enriched me. He was a colleague in ministry, friend, fellow...Read More »
22 of 31 | Posted by: JOHN HEWETT - Charlotte, NC

“I remember Paul teaching us that there was not a reason every note that came out of our mouths shouldn't be beautiful. :) ”
23 of 31 | Posted by: Joanna Torkelson - Plymouth, MN

“I will always remember Paul as the most accomplished musician I have been privileged to know. I was among the singers on the trip to Ireland, England...Read More »
24 of 31 | Posted by: Jane Baxter - Eden Prairie, MN

“Paul was instrumental in bringing me back to my choral-geek ness. Auditioning for Paul after not singing much at all for nearly four years was quite...Read More »
25 of 31 | Posted by: Ken Cheney - Center City, MN

“Paul was a mentor, educator and amazing musician He was a giant figure in so many ways: his artistry, his knowledge, his seemingly unquenchable...Read More »
26 of 31 | Posted by: Vince Delap / Dan Compton - NC

“Absolutely the finest choral conductor with whom I've worked, Paul was a friend and fellow music lover. He will be greatly missed. ”
27 of 31 | Posted by: Francis Crochet - Charlotte, NC

“When I was a member of the Young Spirit group at East Heights UMC in Wichita, Paul was a huge part of my teenage years. I don't think I realized at...Read More »
28 of 31 | Posted by: Anna Nelson Hecker - Fresno, CA

“Professor Oakley had a special gift in music and a big heart for his students. Our deepest sympathy. ”
29 of 31 | Posted by: Paul and Beverly Brouillette - FL

“Paul had the truly magical gift of connecting instantly with an audience, which is no mean feat when you're talking about middle schoolers. Cabarrus...Read More »
30 of 31 | Posted by: Janice Jadlocki - Midland, NC

“You truly touched my life & changed it for the better. Your talent & strength has shown me how amazing one person could be. God has truly stolen a...Read More »
31 of 31 | Posted by: Amanda Haggist - Concord, NC


Paul E. Oakley, 52, was born on December 16, 1960 in Lincoln Park, Michigan. He is the son of Dr. & Mrs. William P. Oakley of Dyersburg, Tennessee, who presently serve the Trimble First Baptist Church. At the time of his death he lived in Owensboro, Kentucky where he was the Professor of Music and the Director of Choral and Sacred Music Studies at Kentucky Wesleyan College. He was the editor of a choral series for Colla Voce Music, Inc. Each year, Professor Oakley conducted numerous All-State High School choirs and high school, collegiate and community festival choruses throughout the United States and abroad. Maestro Oakley was a frequent guest conductor of the New York City Chamber Orchestra.
The master conductor Robert Shaw wrote of Mr. Oakley: "Everything I know and intuit about him is absolutely first-rank. He is a superb performer who understands the score and the deeper musical meanings found within the score. He has an extraordinary acquaintance with historical and contemporary choral literatures. He certainly is the best equipped choral scholar-performer I have met in many years."
As a clinician Mr. Oakley has taught at three National Conventions of ACDA and he has performed at four National Conventions of ACDA. He has been, a clinician for numerous Divisional Conventions, and was a frequent clinician=conductor at State ACDA and MENC conventions. He teaches workshops and performs recitals and hymn festivals for chapters of the American Guild of Organist and the Choristers Guild. He has performed for the national convention of the American Organ builders. In 2006, he delivered the Mortenson Dialogues in Sacred Music at Concordia College in Morehead, Minnesota. He has performed throughout North America and in England, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Australia, Hong Kong, Brazil, and several Caribbean nations.
Oakley was the Music Director and Conductor of the highly acclaimed Bach Society of Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra for over 10 years.
Maestro Oakley has performed in many widely respected venues, among them: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, The White House, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Washington National Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Coventry Cathedral, The Cathedral of Notre Dame (Paris), Chartres Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral (Dublin), Salzburg Cathedral, Roy Thompson Hall (Toronto), St. Michael's Collegiate Church in Munich, the National Cathedral of the Church of Sweden in Uppsala, and the Piccolo-Spoleto Festival. He has prepared choruses and been a coach accompanist for many significant conductors including: Robert Shaw, Helmuth Rilling, Roger Norrington, Andrew Parrott, Sir David Willcocks, John Rutter, Edo de Waart, Donald Neuen, Ann Howard Jones, Martin Pearlman, David Agler, Kenneth Kiesler, and Eric Whitacre.
Paul E. Oakley held the Master of Music degree in Conducting from Boston University where he was a Dean's Scholar and a student of Dr. Ann Howard Jones. He held two undergraduate degrees from Friends University in Organ Performance and Sacred Music. He was a Presser Scholar in Music.
Maestro Oakley also served at several churches during his career. Those churches include Christ Presbyterian in Edina, MN, St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, MN, St Stephen's Episcopal Church in Edina, MN,
Myers Park Baptist in Charlotte, NC, First Presbyterian Church in Salisbury, NC, and First Presbyterian Church in Owensboro, KY.
He also spent time in the areas he served teaching music. These places include The Hartt School in Hartford, CT, East Carolina University in Raleigh, NC, Catawba College in Salisbury, NC, and Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, KY.
Funeral Services for Mr. Oakley will be Tuesday at 10:30 AM at the Trimble First Baptist Church with Dr. William P. Oakley and Joe Oakley officiating. Interment will follow at Fairview Cemetery in Dyersburg, TN. Visitation will be Monday from 5 to 8 PM at the Trimble First Baptist Church.
In addition to his parents, Paul is survived by 3 sisters, Libby George and her husband Karem of Dyer, Tennessee, Diana Seymour and her husband Clark of Plano, Texas, Michelle Walker and her husband Jeffery of Blytheville, AR; a brother Rev. Joe Oakley and his wife Deborah of Grand Prairie, Texas; Five nieces and nephews and several grand nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his colleague and companion Dennis Jewett of Owensboro, KY.
Pallbearers will be Patrick Wilkerson, Willie George, K.S. George, Clark Seymour, Mason Jewett, and Wade Jewett.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial gifts be made to the organ fund of Trimble First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 187, Trimble, TN 38259.
Please sign online condolescenses at johnson-williamsfuneralhome.com. Johnson-Williams Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Paul E. Oakley

SEARCH OTHER SOURCES