Stan Kann passed away Monday morning, September 29th of 2008 at Saint Louis University Hospital from complications during a heart procedure. He was 83. A resident of Saint Louis, Stan had been the organist at the Fox Theatre for 50 plus years.
Stan was also known in the comedy world for his vacuum cleaner collection and his routines where everything usually went wrong. He was a terrific gentleman, superb organist in the authentic style, and hilarious performer with impeccable comedic timing. He was one of the people who brought real dignity to the Theatre Pipe Organ profession, and he was a fine human being.
You can read the official Stan Kann Obituary posted in the Los Angeles Times by clicking here.
On Sunday, Oct 5th, a Celebration of Stan's Life was held at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Saint Louis. It was open to the public and the public really turned out for this Memorial Service and tribute to Stan. It was a Who's Who of those in the local area as well as many who ventured to Saint Louis for the event. Some of note were Don Walker and his Aunt Norma Peters from the Chicago Area, Justin Krasowski and Joe Russo also from the Chicago Area.
The organist, Walt Strony, ventured from who knows where to attend this event, which started out with a very elaborate slide show covering Stan's lifetime. It was presented while people were entering the theatre. Numerous recordings of his programs on various organs (not just the Fox organ) were played along with the slide show.
The 4/36 Mighty WurliTzer had just been repainted for the occasion and had a beautiful flower arrangement on the top. It was not played during the program. There was a life size cutout of Stan on one side of the console next to the bench and on the other side were two vintage vacuum cleaners.
Mary Strauss, the principal owner of the Fox, had arranged the affair and was a principal speaker. Other speakers included friends, organ associates, news and radio personalities, and family members.
A presentation included video/film reproductions of Stan's various TV appearances on Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, etc. These were hysterical to both the audience in the movie as well as the live group at the Fox. A special interlude was presented by the Gateway Men's Chorus. The most emotional time was the showing of a amateur video of his last performance during a tour of the Fox two days before he died. It was typical Stan playing.
Memorial contributions are being accepted for a Stan Kann Scholarship Fund by the Fox Theatre to encourage and support aspiring theatre organists. It was an emotional afternoon but a program well constructed and presented. It really highlighted Stan's many years of music and comedy.
God speed, Stan. You will be missed by many the world over.
Founding Father of Walnut Hill Productions, Fred Willis
The theatre organ world is less one more great enthusiast, the Founding Father of Walnut Hill Productions, Fred Willis. Fred passed away in a hospital in Bakersfield, Calofornia on Friday, September 26th, 2008 after attempts to stop a massive kidney failure and internal hemorraging failed. He was seventy-three years old.
The body of Fred Willis attended by his kin, Paul and Louise.
He will be missed by all of us at Walnut Hill Productions. Survivers include his sister, Louise and his brothers, Paul and John. Services are planned at Ridgecrest Medical Center where he was staying during the end of his life here on Earth.
The body of Fred Willis receiving his Honerable Discharge from Cyrus Roton.
Fred was a war hero serving the United States Navy as a technician aboard a submarine and also serving in Viet Namm with the Navy Seals in cooperation with the Korean Special Forces.
The Meritorous Service Award given to Fred Willis.
Always one with great enthusiasm for the King of Instruments, Fred had built a massive installation of the Mighty MidiTzer Style 260 Special VTPO running on three computers, which Walnut Hill now owns. The main machine will carry the installation, now dubbed the Fred Willis Memorial Mighty MidiTzer.
Fred Willis at his Mighty MidiTzer.
It was Fred's final wishes that he be cremated and his ashes buried in Washington, his home state. More news on the memorial service to follow as we learn the details of the event. An obituary will run shortly in the Walnut Hill Gazette.
God Speed Fred, you now get to play the Mighty TPO in the sky. May the Heavens ring out with that wonderful sound. Amen.
Save The Mighty WurliTzer and Grande Barton
Theatre Pipe Organs At Ceder Rapids, Iowa
CEDAR RAPIDS - Cedar Rapids' two original theatre organs, rare treasures that were damaged by the flood, will be stored at The History Center, 615 First Ave. SE, while their caretakers determine whether they can be restored.
The consoles — or keyboards, controls and seats — of the Paramount Theatre's 3/12 Mighty WurliTzer and the Iowa Theatre's 3/14 Grande Rhinestone Barton pipe organs were both damaged.
The two organs are among about 40 in the country that remain in the theatres they were built for. They were once used to accompany and provide sound effects for silent movies.
3/12 Mighty WurliTzer Balaban 1A console.
The Paramount Theatre's 3/12 Mighty WurliTzer Balaban 1A was installed when the Paramount opened in 1928. The Mighty WurliTzer organ was removed from the Paramount Theatre on June 18. The Grande Barton organ was removed from the Iowa Theatre on Tuesday. That removal was sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. What happens next for the Mighty WurliTzer depends on what happens with the Paramount. The city of Cedar Rapids owns the theatre and the organ.
3/14 Grande Barton console.
The Iowa Theatre's 3/14 Grande Barton console was damaged by the floodwaters, but the impact to the organ was not as visible and dramatic as the Paramount's Mighty WurliTzer. The Barton console, hit with 4 feet of floodwater, remained standing on the 4-post Barton lift unlike it’s sister at the Paramount which was toppled over and tossed around, subjected to 8.5 feet of water and weakened significantly by the experience.
The 3/14 Grande Barton organ is owned by Cedar Rapids Barton Inc., a non-profit group formed exclusively for the maintenance and preservation of the organ. That organization and the Cedar Rapids Theatre Organ Society have set up an organ restoration fund. Gifts are tax deductible, and donations can be submitted by visiting www.cr-atos.com. You can also send a donation via Pay Pal by clicking the "Donate" button below:
To see a complete photodocumentary of the damage to these instruments and the movie palaces they once lived in, click here. Be warned. The images are very graphic, enough to make any TPO buff cry like a baby.
Website Hit Count
Since Founding Day 04/02/2004
The Main Data Server at Walnut Hill.
The figures below represent the approximate daily hit count for the site since going online on April 2nd of 2004. Counter checks begin around ten in the morning and end around ten in the evening, Pacific Daylight Savings Time. Currently, that total stands at over 73,140 happy campers in the Land of the King!
- 10/01/2008 - 72,321
- 10/02/2008 - 72,334
- 10/03/2008 - 72,389
- 10/04/2008 - 72,414
- 10/05/2008 - 72,436
- 10/06/2008 - 72,459
- 10/07/2008 - 72.499
- 10/08/2008 - 72,512
- 10/09/2008 - 72,532
- 10/10/2008 - 72,550
- 10/11/2008 - 72,577
- 10/12/2008 - 72.580
- 10/13/2008 - 72,612
- 10/14/2008 - 72,651
- 10/15/2008 - 72,674
- 10/16/2008 - 72,709
- 10/17/2008 - 72,736
- 10/18/2008 - 72,753
- 10/19/2008 - 72,772
- 10/20/2008 - 72,798
- 10/31/2008 - 73,140
- 10/21/2008 - 72,840
- 10/22/2008 - 72.874
- 10/23/2008 - 72,903
- 10/24/2008 - 72,929
- 10/25/2008 - 72,945
- 10/26/2008 - 72,976
- 10/27/2008 - 73,013
- 10/28/2008 - 73,048
- 10/29/2008 - 73,068
- 10/30/2008 - 73,124
Walnut Hill Productions To Move In 2009
Walnut Hill is on the move again, this time overseas. The move will take place sometime in the fall of 2009, hopefully at the end of September. Details are not clear yet, but we can tell you that we are relocating to the Stockholm, Sweden area. This will afford us the opportunity to help out with the only known instrument of its kind in the country, the 2/7 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ now being restored for possible reinstallation in its original home in the Skandia Theatre. Click here to learn more about this wonderful little TPO and the folks who love her and are working hard to bring her back to life.
Skandia 2/7 Mighty WurliTzer Console
Another reason for the move is so that I can make a home with a fine lady who lives there, one whom I intend to marry, the lovely and talented Erika Laur of Åkersberga, which is a small community to the north of Stockholm in the Osteriker municipality of Uppland, Sweden.
Erika Laur of Åkersberga, Sweden.
I met the one I affectionately call the Rain Woman on deviantART in the fall of 2006 and we immediately became close friends, but it was not until the spring of 2008 that we began to fall in love, after many electronic letters and video conferences. During the summer, we began to colaborate on several projects in the art community. Today, we are inseperable and want very much to be married. We have lots in common, our love for the great outdoors, music, technology and art.
Ridgecrest as seen from the air.
It cannot be determined exactly how long the Bone Doctor will be at this current location in Ridgecrest, but it is expected that he will remain here until the latter part of 2009 when he will be on the move once again, this time to the Stockholm, Sweden area.
Downtown Stockholm, Sweden.
Walnut Hill is relocating to Sweden in order to help fellow Walnut Hill Organ Club and Wall of Fame member Per Olef Schultz with the restoration of the 2/7 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ, this instrument being the only one of its kind in the entire country, which originally had a home in the Skandia Theatre in Stockholm. Our goal is to see this great instrument returned to the theatre.
Second Relocation Fund Drive Now Open
We are now opening the Second Relocation Fund Drive, which is much more ambitious than the first since the distance is greater and there is the matter of shipping equipment and belongings overseas to Åkersberga, Sweden. The four conputers along with a collection of mics, stands, and a mixing console and reference speaker system are worth thousands. The systems can be switched to 240VAC@50Hz via toggles on the power supplies, so adapters will be all that are needed to get them plugged into the local power grid.
We are going to have to raise a lot of money to pull this off, there is no doubt. Airfare alone for a one-way ticket bought in advance will be between $1,000 to $1,700. Passports and Permits will cost around $200. Shipping equipment could be incredibly expensive, perhaps over $2,000, bringing the total cost of the move to a conservatively estimated minumum of $4,000.
How To Make A Donation
As before, the original Pay Pal account which Doc and Tom Hoehn created is still active. Here, you can make your donation to help us relocate Walnut Hill Productions to Sweden. The Second Relocation Fund Drive will run all the way to the time Doc actually arrives and is settled in with Erika. He will be joining her upon his arrival, and she will already have the beginnings of a home started by then. She is to begin this process around January of 2009.
You can also send checks via standard mail to the following address, should you choose to not use the Pay Pal account. Please make checks payable to Richard Mogridge, with the words "Relocation Fund" in the memo line. The address is:
Walnut Hill Productions
1229 Sims Street
Ridgecrest, California 93555
If you have questions about the relocation fund, you can call the Bone Doctor at the Walnut Hill Office of Operations to learn more. That telephone number is 1-727-230-2610.
Become a part of history by making your donation today. Please help us to continue the work we are doing as we steadily grow and evolve, adding new features and more services such as broadcasting audio and video for all to enjoy. You'll be glad you did, knowing you will be helping to keep the King of Instruments in the public eye so that it will not be lost to future generations.
You can also become a part of this growing team of hard working Theatre Pipe Organ enthusiasts. We need the help of all those who can send in pictures, documents and recordings as audio and video clips for use in future featured organ and artist articles. Get your name in lights on our site. Call the Walnut Hill Office of Operations to learn more and get started.
Funds received during the Second Fund Drive: $645.00
All contributors will get recognized at the site should they choose, or they can remain anonymous, simply by letting the Bone Doctor know their preferences via email. Below is a listing of those individuals who have generously contributed funds and items to date:
- David Irwin
- Charles Walls
- David Knudtson
- Frank Towle
- Jim Reid
- Charles Ekstrand
- Erika Laur Rosenback
- Bryan Patterson
- Frederick Muller
- William Spalding
- $ 75.00
- $ 25.00
- $ 20.00
- $ 50.00
- $ 50.00
- $ 25.00
These most kind and generous folks have earned memberships in the Walnut Hill Organ Club and will be notified of their membership status when the club goes official after the move to Sweden. We have decided to push forward with the organization while awaiting an ATOS charter. We will post our progress in the Gazette during the fledgeling phase of this project which must still undergo much planning.
This is yet another major move forward for Walnut Hill Productions, one of the fastest growing and most visited TPO sites on the internet. We are trying to keep the Walnut Hill Productions website a free place for all who love the Mighty King of Instruments. We are also trying to keep it vibrant and ever changing. We do this to preserve a very important slice of history, but we need your help to keep it going. This move will allow Walnut Hill Productions to continue making major strides forward for the King of Instruments, doing the same thing for the organs of Europe that was done for those in the United States. We are thanking you in advance. The best is yet to come!