Texas accompanist devoted half century to music ministry

SOUTHLAKE?A Texas woman who enjoyed a half-century with “a front-row seat” watching thousands of people come to faith in Christ was honored posthumously on June 22 at First Baptist Church of Southlake.

Reba Andrae, 69, of Bedford, died June 12, in a local nursing home where she had lived for several months after suffering a stroke. The former pianist for the Southlake church had also served as an accompanist at First Baptist of Brownsville, Oakview Baptist in Fort Worth, College Heights Baptist in Plainview, Riverside Baptist in Fort Worth and East Grand Baptist in Dallas, as well as First Baptist of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She played the piano since the age of 3, then served as an accompanist for her home church when she turned 9.

Music evangelist John McKay asked her to accompany him in his first recording session in 1960 and later recommended she join he and evangelist James Robison when the two men teamed up to launch a crusade ministry.

“Reba was a classical pianist with a touch reminiscent of angels treading on the keys,” Robison shared. “Her love and her warmth literally found expression as she poured her heart out through the keyboard of a piano or organ. Reba’s great God-given talent was presented to the world in the sound of music.”

After eight years with Robison’s ministry, she served another 20 years accompanying McKay in the crusades and church concerts where he ministered. A few months ago McKay heard Andrae share her favorite memory of those years, quoting her answer: “‘I have been blessed beyond measure to have looked into the faces of thousands of lost souls who were saved. I have had a front-row seat.'”

Mourners present for the service noted Andrae’s gift of encouragement with her oldest granddaughter sharing, “She loved showing her joy in whatever her family was joyful about. She was a great audience,” Whitney Newby added. “Now she’s part of the cloud of witnesses cheering us on this journey.”

Former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister Mike Huckabee remembered traveling with the Robison ministry staff in the late 1970s, telling the TEXAN, “She was a caring, kind and sensitive person who would always quietly seek out people in pain and comfort them. She had a servant’s heart and one of her special gifts was giving affirmation to those around her. She laughed at our bad jokes, complimented us when we really needed it and encouraged us when it seemed the world had caved in.”

“She never liked the limelight,” McKay remembered. Speaking at the memorial service, he said, “She was satisfied doing her part, standing like a member of Gideon’s Army around the camp, holding forth the lamp of Jesus Christ.”

During a crusade in Dayton, Ohio, McKay and fellow staffer Joe Simmons heard the organ accompaniment drop out during an invitation hymn while the pianist continued. Rushing over to check on the organist, Simmons found her on her knees, admitting her need for assurance of salvation. “We can correct that right now, Reba,” Simmons recalled telling her as she professed faith in Christ.

McKay offered the illustration as an invitation for church members gathered at the memorial service to recognize their need for a Savior. Son Todd Ware and daughters Mel Tunney and Missy Clements closed the service in singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

Survivors include daughters Mel Tunney and Missy Clements, both of Nashville, Tenn., sons Todd Ware of Hurst and Jeffrey Ware of Goldsboro, N.C., and seven granddaughters. In lieu of flowers and because their mother was adopted, the siblings requested donations be made in her honor to the Gladney Center for Adoption based in Fort Worth.

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