His great-grandfather, a pastor, established a church in a western town in the 1800’s. The pastor’s daughter played the pump pipe organ for services. A certain handsome young man (to be Grandfather) was the Sunday School Superintendent who also operated the air pump for the pipe organ. The inevitable happened: the Sunday School Superintendent married the Organist (to be Grandmother), even though his family thought his marrying into different family would have been a better financial decision. It was a marriage based on love. The woman he loved was a church organist who loved music, the music of the church. Theirs was a union built on love with commitments to each other and God, and always surrounded by music.
Grandfather and Grandmother had a daughter (Mother) who was a fine pianist and who played the piano regularly at home for her family. Mother made sure he had a fine instrument and piano lessons throughout his developmental years. His musical ability was noted as early as 4th grade when he sang a solo for the school Christmas program. He started piano lessons at age ten. He played an audition including masterworks of the piano repertoire for the National Guild of Piano Teachers, receiving an excellent score card, and remarks from the judge that encouraged his continuing study. He had a superb music teacher in 6th, 7th, and 8th, grades who taught the students to sing in three parts. He sang in the high school glee club.
He loved music but he knew his career path was not to be a professional musician. That did not, however, deter his passion for singing, taking organ lessons while getting an advanced degree, and when he married, delaying the start of his career so he and his bride could attend a full season of opera and finish their educations before settling into domestic life. Oh, and despite the opinions and alternative suggestions of family and friends, he married for love. Just like his grandparents. He married a brilliant woman who shared his love of music, service, and life goals. He played his Grandmother’s Steinway in the evenings to entertain his wife while she prepared dinner, which was often accompanied by her favorite dinner music, Mozart.
When their community needed arts and culture, they, with others, established a decreasing fund to bring talented artists to perform. When the Symphony needed help they made a lead gift to inspire others to join them. When the local college needed a performing space, they helped build an auditorium. When the church needed an organ, they made sure the best organ available was secured, and followed the process from choice of builder to installation of the pipes. Now the organ remains the foundation of a music program that flourishes after decades in a culture where church music otherwise might have faltered. That pipe organ, one of few in the area, is the rock upon which significant music for worship can stand.
His wife has “been promoted” now, and he still plays the piano every day. His hands are nimble and strong. The repertoire of his earlier years serves him well, as do the hymns he loves. He finds the last stanza of “The Church’s One Foundation” especially meaningful as he misses his wife so much. . . .
Yet she on earth has union with God the Three in One
And mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we,
Like them, the meek and lowly, May live eternally.
Two love stories. Two generations apart. Two lifelong commitments made for all the right reasons. One continuing family whose lives were bound by love, faith and music who have made the world a better place because they lived, loved, were faithful to God, and made music.