Pitt Warner graduated from San Diego State in 1969 and never really left.
After earning his degree, the Toronto native continued to perform as a drummer with SDSU’s jazz ensembles for many decades and to support the program financially. He also played professionally with a San Diego-based Latin jazz band, The Bordermen.
Shoulder and arm injuries finally compelled him to put down the drum sticks late last year at age 86, but his legacy lives on.
“Pitt Warner is a San Diego musical icon who has played with the very best musicians, and we are fortunate that he has performed with our jazz ensembles,” said Bill Yeager, professor of music and director of jazz studies at SDSU.
“Pitt’s presence has been an inspiration to our students, and he serves as a role model of what it means to be a consummate professional.”
Warner’s financial support for jazz studies goes beyond the drum sets and recording equipment he has purchased for the program.
He and his late wife, Virginia, also an SDSU alumnus, named the School of Music in their trust, along with the College of Arts and Letters. Their gift will provide scholarships for English and anthropology majors.
Recently, Warner also made a cash gift to name the Virginia and Pitt Warner Suite in SDSU’s Department of English and Comparative Literature. The naming honors his wife, a 1952 graduate of SDSU’s English program.
“My wife was a strong proponent of higher education,” Warner recalled. “She urged me to get a degree late in life, and my years at State were very good years.”
Warner enjoyed a long career as a teacher at Audobon and Miller elementary schools in San Diego. He also worked as a portrait and wedding photographer, and has donated hundreds of his photographs to SDSU.