Sunday, November 17, 2002


Thomas Gentil coached singers, choruses

By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A retired music teacher, Thomas Alvin Gentil, was known as "Mr. Barbershop" among barbershop harmony singers.

Over the years, he served as chorus director, arranger and coach for the local chapters of the male Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA) and the female Sweet Adelines International.

"He was known by both the men's and women's societies all over the United States. He had a big influence on the choruses in this area," said his wife, Patricia. "He was an extremely patient man who gave every quartet that stood in our living room equal time He treated them all alike. He taught them to do the best they could do."

Mr. Gentil died Nov. 10 of leukemia at Mercy Franciscan Hospital in Western Hills. The Monfort Heights resident was 69.

He was born in 1933 in Cincinnati to Charles and Josephine Gentil. He earned a bachelor's degree in music and education in 1956 from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.

He became a music teacher with Dayton (Ky.) High School, where he helped rejuvenate the school's music program. In 1964, he became a music teacher and director at Walnut Hills Junior High School. He retired in 1989.

In 1957, he joined the Cincinnati-Western Hills Chapter, Southern Gateway Chorus of SPEBSQSA and was appointed director in 1958.

In 1959, he was asked to be director of the Seven Hills Chapter of Sweet Adelines on a trial basis and stayed 35 years.

Mr. Gentil also coached choruses and quartets throughout the country, from San Diego to Toronto.

Survivors include his wife, Patricia; a son, Timothy C. of Monfort Heights, a student at the University of Toledo; a sister, Dorothy Sieving of Delhi Township, and brother, James F. of Loveland.

Services have been held.

Memorials: Seven Hills Chorus, c/o Liz Schulz, Treasurer, 2868 Compton Road, Cincinnati, OH 45251.

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