A plaque was placed at the foot of his grave and the inscription read “His Music Enriched Our Lives.”

Music continues to enrich our lives as the East Texas Pipe Organ Festival celebrates their 10th Annual Festival during the upcoming week, beginning tomorrow. The festival honors the life and work of Roy Perry, who was organist- choirmaster at First Presbyterian Church from 1932-1972.

Roy was born on Sept. 27, 1906 in Indian Bayou near Lake Charles, Louisiana. Not having the best of childhoods, Roy was cared for primarily by his grandmother and an Aunt Jenny, who first recognized his musical talent.

In elementary school, he had a music teacher, Mrs. Ora M. Reams, who came to his school once a week, teaching the elementary principles of solfege, a system where every note of a scale is given its own unique syllable, which is used to sing that note every time it appears, perhaps best understood by singing the chords Do, Re, Mi Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Do.

Roy proved himself to be intelligent, bright and easily caught on to what he was being taught. By the time he hit his mid-teens, he was self-sufficient and had jobs playing in a Jewish Temple and a movie theatre near Lake Charles. It was during this time he took some formal lessons with Mrs. Ream. He later became the organist of St.Cyprian’s Church and the Pines Theatre in Lufkin.

In 1932, at the age of 26, Lou Della Crim hired Roy to come to Kilgore to play at the First Presbyterian Church. He became close to the Crim family and he was treated as one. They sent him to New York on several occasions to study under Hugh McAmis, an eminent American virtuoso. It was in New York where Roy heard his first Aeolian-Skinner organ.

In 1945, following his discharge from the Army, he earned his Bachelor’s in music at North Texas State University. Having completed a requisite amount of class work, he completed credit for four years of applied organ study by examination in one afternoon. He later taught at North Texas State, at Evergreen, and at local Presbyterian Church and seminary conferences and American Guild of Organists classes.

During his lifetime, he also became associated with the Williams family, organ builders from New Orleans. He earned sales commissions as well as helping to install and finish organs. He was instrumental in the 1966 re-build of the Aeolian-skinner Opus 1173 at the First Presbyterian Church here.

Whatever he set out to do, Roy Perry accomplished with a flare. As an accomplished organist, teacher, organ builder and finisher, Roy believed music was an art. It showed in all of his works. Roy Perry died in 1976 and it was his Kilgore family, the Crims that buried him. His legacy now lives on through the Roy Perry American Classic Organ Foundation founded in November 2019 as a non-profit foundation for the purpose of preserving, recording and studying organs built in the American Classic style, designed and finished by Roy Perry; and other organs congruent with them, and presenting them to the widest possible audiences, through festivals, recordings, publications, competitions, and the maintenance of a research archive and library.

The foundation oversees the East Texas PIpe Organ Festival, founded by previous organist – choirmaster of First Presbyterian, Lorenz Maycher. Lorenz’ now teaches music and can be found at the festival’s headquarters located at 115 S. Kilgore Street, across the road from The Texan Theater. The headquarters is quite a showcase in itself according to Lorenzo, with it housing some of Roy Perry’s artifacts, choir roe, writings and original compositions. A pipe organ and a Steinway piano can also be seen at the headquarters.

Lorenz said, “We had to do something, we started growing with all of this memorabilia and we outgrew the church and we outgrew my home. The headquarters is the next best thing.”

The East Texas Pipe Organ Festival will host an online festival this year due to the current pandemic. They will host several online concerts Nov. 8-12. On Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m., in conjunction with Reel East Texas, an outdoor silent movie will take place in downtown Kilgore at the Texan Theatre. The movie is “Girl Shy” starring Harold Lloyd with organ accompaniment on the FPC Acolian Skinner performed by Clark Wilson.

Donations are appreciated and will enable the foundation to continue to offer outstanding performances.

Something old; something new. Be sure and drop by the Texan Theatre and listen and watch from the inside of your car and tune In virtually for their on-line concerts.

May His love and His laughter fill your hearts and your homes throughout the week. In the meantime, we may be reached at (903) 984-2593 or chitchatlinda@aol.com.

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