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Heavenly Organist: Passing of William R. Memmott

Updated: Aug 29, 2020

Heaven gained an angel and we lost an amazing friend. It is with heavy hearts that we share with you the news concerning the untimely death of Bill Memmott, who passed away on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at the age of 84. William is survived by his loving and devoted husband of 42 years, Robert A. Brown and his brother, James Memmott. He is preceded in death by his parents, Leonard Ridsdale Memmott and Mabel Elmira Stenquist Memmott.

William “Bill” grew up in northern New Jersey, the son and brother of Presbyterian ministers. He began serving as an organist at age twelve, serving churches in New Jersey, New York City, St. Louis, and New Orleans. In high school, he was organist/choir master at Gladstone Methodist Church in Trenton, NJ. He studied organ with Dr. Charlotte Garden of the Sacred Music School of Union Theological Seminary, Dr. Carl Weinrich at Princeton University and Jean Langlais of Ste. Clotilde, Paris. His composition studies were with Milton Babbitt and Edward Cone at Princeton University, with Dr. Leigh Gerdine at Washington University in St. Louis, and with Michael Rihner and Dr. Yotam Haber at the University of New Orleans where he obtained his Master’s Degree. Other music studies included piano, trombone, violin, conducting and musicology. Over the years he served at St. Paul Episcopal Church in Alton, Illinois (Suburban St. Louis), Memorial, West Westminster, and Northminster Presbyterian Churches in St. Louis and First Presbyterian Church, Jamaica Queens, New York City. He was Head of Music Activities at Fontbonne University in St. Louis and conducted the concert band at St. Louis University. He was the founder and artistic director of the Contemporary Chorus and the Pro Arte Chorale in northern New Jersey, founder of the Rider University Glee Club, and the Bel Canto Chorus and Orchestra in St. Louis. He performed widely as conductor and organ recitalist. His compositions included works for piano, organ, choir and instrumental ensembles. Bill was also President and Tonal Director of Louis IX Associates Pipe Organ Company. Since moving to New Orleans, he was Organist/Choir Master at St. Anna Episcopal Church, served on the Episcopal Bishop’s Commission on Worship and Liturgy, and served as Dean of the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Most recently, he served for more than twelve years as Organist/Choir Master at John Calvin Presbyterian Church where he conducted two major choral concerts yearly with professional orchestra and soloists. He scored more than a dozen of these works for orchestra. Bill was a member of the Christ Church Cathedral and served as Organist/Choir Master at Gretna United Methodist Church. His other musical appointments included serving as Director of the Delaware Valley Opera Theatre in Levittown, Pennsylvania and the Fontbonne University Opera Theatre in St. Louis.

Services will be held at a later date when both family and friends can safely gather. At this time, the family invites you to express your fond thoughts, memories and condolences online at This Sunday during our worship service, we will offer a moment of tribute and a special prayer of gratitude for his life and ministry.

Then those who sing as well as those who play an instrument shall say, "All my springs of joy are in You, my God." Psalm 87:7

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