Remembering “Dr. Gus”

Dwight Gustafson conducting in Rodeheaver Auditorium, 2010

Dwight Gustafson (better known to us as “Dr. Gus”) passed away a few weeks ago on January 28. He served as dean of the School of Fine Arts at Bob Jones University for 43 years and had a profound influence on thousands of lives, including mine. has a beautiful tribute page to Dr. Gus. What follows is the personal tribute that I shared:

“I attended BJU after Dr. Gus had ‘retired,’ but he still did a lot of conducting. I feel so fortunate to have learned under his direction for many concerts and operas. I think my favorite memories are from our evening opera understudy rehearsals with just him, the piano, and the other soloists. His immense scholarship combined with his personal warmth were inspiring. He once took the time to ‘lean over me’ [he was a very tall man] with a personal word of encouragement that helped keep me in grad school at a time of great personal struggle. I will never forget that.

“To his family: you have always treated me like a son and brother. I have seldom felt more welcomed than in your presence. Dr. Gus always made me feel that way, too. His warmth and wit survive in you. Praying for you all. Dr. Gus will be missed…and remembered.”

[Dr. Gus is the grandfather of Brian Pinner, my good friend and musical collaborator. Together we wrote “O God My Joy” and “See the Christ.”]