James R. Lenney Cranford's Choral Music Patriarch for 60 years James R. Lenney, 85, an active and long time Cranford resident, died June 16, 2013 following a brief illness at Overlook Hospital. A Memorial Service will be held Friday, August 9, at 2pm at Trinity Episcopal Church of Cranford, located at the corner of Forest and North Avenues. Arrangements by Gray Memorial, Cranford, NJ. Go to grayfuneralhomes.com for on line condolences. Born and raised in Staten Island, Mr. Lenney graduated from Port Richmond High School 1946, NYU 1950 with a BA and 1957 with his MA in music education. Post graduate work included NYU, Seton Hall, Kean Universities as well as Westminster Choir College. Many consider Mr. Lenney the patriarch of Cranford's music community. He inspired literally thousands of students with and through music. Mr. Lenney began teaching in Cranford during the 1952-1953 school year and served as music teacher, Director of Choral Activities at Cranford High School, and Supervisor of Music for the entire district. A tradition of excellence in singing was established under his leadership, and each year numerous students were selected from his choir to participate in the New Jersey All-State Choir: A tradition that continues to this day. In 1964, Mr. Lenney conducted the New Jersey All-State Choir and he has continued to be active in the state music educators' organizations. During the Vietnam War era, Mr. Lenney was among a small handful of citizens to carry on the Memorial Day tradition honoring our veterans. After retiring from Cranford Public Schools in 1988, Mr. Lenney served on the faculty at Kean University and was their Interim Coordinator of Music Education from 1998-2001. He has held music positions at numerous churches in the area, but since 1983, for the past 30 years, he has served at Trinity Episcopal Church as Choirmaster and Organist. One of Mr. Lenney's crowning achievements was the renowned 1980 Cranford High School Choir and their performance at the European Music Festival for Youth in Neerpelt Belgium, at which the choir was awarded the "summa cum laude" medal. The Cranford Chronicle dubbed that ensemble "our triumphal choir", stating in an editorial that "Cranford's remarkable achievement entitles the choir to call itself "the best," and both the school and the town have reason to be very proud." Mr. Lenney faithfully served the community for 60 years, inspiring everyone he taught to reach their greatest potential, in music-making and in living life honorably. Three days before driving himself to the hospital, Mr. Lenney, accompanied by the current Cranford High School Choir Director, Mr. Anthony Rafaniello, presented for the first time, the James Lenney Choral Excellence Scholarship to two graduating high school seniors. Mr. Lenney was predeceased by his mother, Majorie R. McNamara Lenney. Mr. Lenney is survived by his life partner, James Pulliam. Also surviving are his dear friends who became family, Tom Noon and John Zebrowski. A special thanks goes to Rev. Gina Walsh-Minor for her care and counsel, and all those who shared the love of singing cultivated by Jim. Memorial gifts to honor his service and memory may be made to the James Lenney Choral Excellence Scholarship Fund, Cranford High School. It was a life well-lived, promoting and supporting the choral art in our youth.