MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. -- Richard F. Levister, a lifelong Mount Vernon resident and musical genius, died Sunday, Dec. 7. He was 87.
Levister was the fifth son of the late Rev. J. Millard Levister, one of the founding pastors of Grace Baptist Church, and the late Carrie Barrett Levister.
Levister earned national notoriety in the ’50s and '60s after forming a doo-wop group, The Mellow Kings, who had a hit record, "Tonite Tonite" and performed on Dick Clark’s "American Bandstand." The hit landed them a mention in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame publication.
Levister was a popular jazz pianist, gospel organist and choir director for Gethsemane Baptist Church, White Rock Baptist Church, Community Apostolic Church and Vernon Heights Congregational Church, all in Mount Vernon, and the Richard R. Green Junior High School Gospel Choir and Seven Light Baptist Church in the Bronx. He also formed several other successful Mount Vernon groups such as The Earls and Sky's The Limit.
He was preceded in death by his three older brothers, Millard M., Robert E. and James F.; two sisters, Ruth M. and Doris D.; and a host of other relatives.
Levister is survived by a brother, Wendell W. of Gary, Ind., two sisters, Carol J. and Elena Levister Verzieri of Philadelphia; and many nieces, nephews and in-laws.
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