By Jon Konjoyan
Longtime Cal State Long Beach choral director Frank Pooler, who mentored the 1970s pop duo Richard and Karen Carpenter, and co-wrote the holiday standard “Merry Christmas Darling” with Richard Carpenter, passed away Jan. 19 in Los Alamitos. He was 86 and had battled lung cancer.
Pooler met the Carpenters when they were music students at Long Beach. Karen was studying drums and Richard piano, but he encouraged them to also sing and compose. Pooler was credited with exposing the siblings to “voice blending” techniques, which became a cornerstone of their sound exemplified in hit songs like “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Superstar.”
Pooler hailed from Wisconsin and studied at the prestigious St. Olaf College in Minnesota. He moved to California in the 1960s and started the Cal State Long Beach choral department, and later its jazz studies division. He was choir director there for 29 years.
A memorial service is set for Feb. 23 at Grace First Presbyterian Church located at 3955 Studebaker Rd. in Long Beach.