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Our History

by: Alfred E. Lunsford (1918-2003)




In 1946, a small group of enthusiastic organists met in the Coffee Shop of the Farragut Hotel in downtown Knoxville to discuss the establishment of a Knoxville Chapter of the national organization. The national president, Mr. S. Lewis Elmer, was present to answer questions and to assist with arrangements. As a result, the Knoxville Chapter was chartered that year. William G. Barnes served as Dean until an election of officers was subsequently held.

First Elected Officers:

Dean, Earl Jones

Sub-Dean, John W. Jones

Secretary, Elizabeth Platt

Treasurer, William Jacobs

Other Charter Members included W. Cecil Anderson, Katharine C. Davies, Carlotta M. Eppes, William Curtis Hughes, Vera King Johnson, Alfred E. Lunsford, Garnet Manges, R.G. Sawyer, Bess Shugart, and Klaus Speer.



The Knoxville Chapter has hosted three regional conventions: 1957, 1973, and 1999. The Region IV Convention in 1999 was the second largest that year with 398 attendees from 17 states and Antigua.


By 1957, the chapter had grown in numbers and vitality and it was decided to host a regional convention, a major undertaking for a fledgling chapter. At that time, the region was known as "The Southern Region," and contained 17 chapters. Jack Edwin Rogers was the Stater Chairman and Jane Wauford was the Dean of the Knoxville Chapter. Alfred Lunsford and Claudia Carter served as co-chairpersons of the convention.

Organ workshops were given by Oswald G. Ragatz, Associate Professor of Organ at Indiana University. Choral Technique workshops were given by Paul J. Christiansen, Chair of the Department of Music at Concordia College. A class on Junior Choir Methods was taught by Harry H. Harter, Assistant Professor of Music at Maryville College. Edward H. Hamilton taught a class on Youth Choir Rehearsals. Outstanding Organ Recitals were given by Oswald Ragatz at St. John's Episcopal Church. Emily Cooper, winner of the National Organ Playing Contest in New York City in 1956, performed at New Providence Presbyterian church in Maryville, and John Weaver played at Bell Avenue Baptist Church (now Chilhowee Hills Baptist). A religious drama, "Unto Thy Kingdom," was presented by the Religious Drama Club of the First United Methodist Church and an organ playing contest was held at First Baptist Church. Conventioneers were treated to a tour of the Great Smoky Mountains and were treated to an evening at the Tennessee Theatre for the silent movie, "Owl's Nocturne," with Charles Hunnicutt playing the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Sixteen years later, the Knoxville Chapter hosted its second regional convention in June of 1973 with headquarters at the newly-opened, architecturally magnificent Hyatt Hotel which someone humorously said looked like "the box the Norris Dam had come in!" Indeed it was, and is, an imposing structure; this convention was the first to be held at this new venue. Major participants and performers included such notables as Robert Noehren, Clark Kelly, Cherry Rhodes, Harry Huff, the 1971 Southern Regional Competition winner, Ladd Thomas and others. The convention ended with a tour of Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountain with a stop at the home of Iris and Roy Newman for refreshments. Once again, Lnoxville had hosted a very successful convention.

The Third Convention:

*This convention was not outlined in the original History. If you have any information regarding performers, clinicians, and other events, please contact Josh Sumter (*



In 1996, a few years prior to its third regional convention, the Knoxville Chapter began a year-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of its founding and charter. Coincidentally, the the American Guild of Organists was celebrating its 100th anniversary; so, needless to say, this was an outstanding and memorable year for the organ community!


The Fiftieth Anniversary Committee planned several events throughout this program year including a series of articles that appeared in its monthly newletter, "The Tracker," written by charter member, Slfred E. Lunsford. This series of articles revealed an interesting and detailed history of the Knoxville Chapter, the effects of growth in the region on area churches, and, certainly, growth in the Knoxville Chapter. Sunday, April 14, 1996 was declared National Guild Centennial Sunday and on this date, the Knoxville Chapter officially clebrated its 50th anniversary. On this Sunday, too, was the World's Largest Organ Recital in which many chapters across the nation participated. The Knoxville Chapter held its recital at Second Presbyterian Church followed by a formal reception. Chapter member, James Pethel, was commissioned to compose an organ composition which was played on this program. His work, based on the hymn-tune ENGLEBERG was premiered with the congregation singing the text to this tune, When in Our Music God is Glorified.


The Knoxville Chapter's Church Music Workshop (CMW) was established under the leadership of John Brock, then professor of music and organ at the University of Tennessee. With the exception of 1999 and 2000, when Knoxville was planning and hosting the Region IV Convention, the CMW has been held every year since 1971. This two-day conference focused on choral and organ techniques and performance in workshops led by noted clinicians. An average of 70 church musicians attend the CMW each year and come from approximately a 150-mile radius around Knoxville.


List of CMW Clinicians:

1971: Mildred Andrews, John Brock, William Gray

1972: Grigg Fountain

1973: Robert Anderson, Phillip Dietterich

1974: Marilyn Mason, Donald Neuen, Carl Perry

1975: Arthur Poister, Will Headlee, Donald Neuen, John Mullen

1976: Gerre Hancock, Donald Plott, Helen Kemp

1977: Frederick Swann, Dale Wood

1978: Paul Manz, Erik Routley

1979: Wilma Jensen, Grigg Fountain

1980: Alice Parker, Stephen Ortlip, Schuyler Robinson

1981: Warren Hutton, Janet Yamron

1982: Robert Glasgow, Joseph Schreiber

1983: Wolfgang Rubsam, Ronald A. Nelson

1984: Larry Smith, Daniel Pinkham

1985: Russell Saunders, James R. Rogers, Dolly Hough

1986: Robert Clark, Michael Kemp

1987: John Ferguson, W. Thomas Smith

1988: Roberta Gary, Ronald Arnatt

1989: John Weaver, Austin Lovelace

1990: Larry Smith, Ronald J. Jenkins

1991: David Dahl, John Bertalot

1992: John Daved Peterson, Monte Atkinson

1993: David Craighead, Marilyn Gonzales

1994: David Hurd, Bruce Neswick

1995: Mary Ann Dodd, James M. Jordan

1996: Michael Corzine, Larry L. Fleming, Brant S. Copeland

1997: Charles Tompkins, Ann Howard Jones

1998: Delbert Disselhorst, James Litton

2001: David Higgs, Sigrid Johnson

2002: Peter Sykes, Sandra Willetts

2003: Michael Burkhardt, Norman MacKenzie

2004: David Arcus, Rob Taylor

2005: Stephen Hamilton, Leo Nestor

2006: Christa Rakich, Ben Hutto















Former Deans

William G. Barnes


Earl C. Jones


Maurice D. Peterson


Alfred E. Lunsford

(1949-50, 1954-56, 1971-72, 1985-86)

Mrs. R.G. Sawyer


Mrs. J.W. Carter


Mrs. Harry W. Shugart


Jane E. Wauford

(1956-57, 1965-66)

Mrs. Douglas Kloss


William Byrd


Wallace Zimmerman


Charles E. Hunnicutt


Edwin H. May

(1961-63, 1966-67, 1986-87)

Harry H. Harter


Albert Rule


James A. Bloy


Mrs. Roy C. Newman


John P. Brock, Jr.

(1970-71, 2010-11)

William Brice


Mary Eleanor Pickle

(1973-74, 1992-93)

William E. Gray


Anne L. Ensor


Judy Hunnicutt


Sandra S. Murphy


Steven A. Clark


Laura K. White


Dorothy E. Frerichs


Margie Johnson


James Rogers


Mrilyn Ivey


Peggy Dean


Brenda Goslee


Peter Van Eenam


Vance Reese


James Winfree


Janice Kennedy


Wanda Parks


Ashley Burell


Dawn Thompson


Eileen Rudd


James Garvey

(1997-98, 2020-21)

Denny Frost Mullins


Timothy A. Lett


Christopher Garven


Thomas T. Evans


Tami Newsom


Karen Ladd


Sandra Emond


Joan McGinnis


Timothy E. Bounds


Carolyn I. Moser


Lon Knight


Charles Parham


Karl Jacob


Edie Johnson


Deborah Sousa


Deborah Sanders


Andrew Morehead


Simon Ballintoy


Terrye Danner


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