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Leanne Fazio

March 10, 2013

On March 6, 2013 Leanne Park Hemphill Fazio, wife, mother, grandmother, and musician of large and generous spirit, died at her home among family and friends.  The funeral service will take place at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Starkville at 10:30 a. m. on Saturday, March 16 and will be followed by an inurnment of ashes in the church’s columbarium then by a gathering for all in the church’s parish hall.Leanne was the daughter of the late Ruth and Darrell Hemphill of Brownsville, Texas.  She is survived by her husband, Michael, by her children, Daryl Lisa Fazio of Atlanta, Georgia and Steven Andrew Fazio of Nashville, Tenn. and his wife Adrienne and their daughter Francesca Elizabeth Fazio and by her brothers Drew Hemphill of Dallas, Texas and Paul Hemphill of Brownsville, Texas and his wife Linda.

Leanne loved to spend time cooking, laughing, shopping, traveling, watching movies, attending to the needs of others, and being with her family and friends, and she was delighted to welcome her first grandchild, Francesca, into the world in 2012.  Her many friends were a source of joy and strength throughout her long illness and she treasured them all until her very last moments.  She will be missed.

Leanne was a musician in her mind and in her heart.  A keyboard player and music historian, she was first trained at Judson College, then received advanced degrees from Southern Methodist University, Kent State University, and the University of Alabama, where she studied organ performance with master-teacher Warren Hutton and found him to be a kindred spirit.  She taught for more than three decades in the Department of Music Education at Mississippi State University, and she performed regularly with her friends and colleagues on campus, in the community, and throughout the Southeast, playing the harpsichord, piano, and organ, which was her principal instrument.  She always believed performance to be an act of sharing between artist and audience and shaped her time on stage accordingly.Leanne served as a church musician for better than half a century and played for multiple denominations.  For more than a decade she was organist at the First Presbyterian Church in Starkville.  Her own church home was the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, and she served there as organist beginning in 1974 and again from 2001 to 2012 and in her second tenure also directed the adult and children’s choirs.  She viewed music as an integral part of, not an embellishment to, the church service and worked tirelessly toward this end, and over the years she found in her relationships with members of Resurrection’s clergy one of her greatest sources of fulfillment and joy.Throughout her ecumenical life she treated music as a means for building community and for celebrating the depth and resilience of the human spirit.  For her, a children’s choir was a place for learning about the church, the role of music in it, and the ability of music to nurture spiritual awareness, and an adult choir was that part of the body of Christ trained to lead the congregation and to make available to them the transformative and healing power of song.

The family thanks the many who ministered to us all during our time of need.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Music Fund of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, 319 University Drive, Starkville, MS, 39759. You can go on line and sign our guest register at www.welchfuneralhomes.com.

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