bobbyrd
Robert Byrd
  • 55 years old
  • Date of birth: Jan 8, 1959
  • Date of passing: Dec 31, 2014

Due to the unprecedented weather and difficulty with travel the memorial concert for Robert Byrd re-scheduled for tonight, Tuesday, 3 February will be yet again postponed – please spread the word so that people do not attempt to attend! We will be planning for something in the spring and will inform you as to the date when it is finally settled.

The Old West Organ Society joins the rest of the Boston musical community in mourning the passing of Robert Byrd. He was passionately devoted to the C. B. Fisk Op. 55 organ, and served as both organist and protector of the instrument up until his death. His short time on the Board of Directors was marked with creative ideas and observant thoughtfulness. He shall be sorely missed.

Please join us in remembering Bob Byrd at a time and date to be announced at the Old West Church. Colleagues and co-workers from all around will present music and remembrances, with a reception to follow. Program details will soon be available. 

Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Erika Parrish-Wilcox on 13th March 2015

"Robert was a dear friend that I have only known since last year. In reading the loving tributes written by his family and friends, it is evident that he was and is dear to all of us that had the opportunity to know him. In addition, he will be dearly missed by us all, including his Christian Science friends that he would visit on a weekly basis. He loved going to many churches, working and playing on the magnificent organs in the Boston area. He always shared freely what he was feeling in his heart and was always ready to embrace and to give a kind word, a gentle thought, to give of himself, to feel loved and give love. We would share about our lives and what we were learning about our individual spiritual journeys. He was a wonderful listener and he also loved sharing his deepest thoughts. He loved God and embraced the many different religions he came into contact with through his music.

My husband and I were part of that gathering at the Church of the Advent on Beacon Hill in Boston, at the Advent service before Christmas this past year. He wanted to make certain that we would all sit in just the right place at the concert so we could fully enjoy the organ and feel the uplifting music. We all went out to eat after that and shared our food with each other, chinese style. We laughed and had a wonderful time together. That is how I will always remember him, full of joy and laughter.

I am grateful for the genuine sense of friendship/family he has shared with me and many others. I know that he will continue to bless and be blessed as he continues his journey.  I am also saddened that we will not see him anymore, but we always have the memories of having known a truly loving, gentle, generous, and kind Robert. A dear friend."

This tribute was added by Cynthia Tyler on 12th March 2015

"I will miss Bob, the wonderful friend he was and the deep thinker and seeker of Truth that he exemplified. It was always a meaningful experience to talk with him, and the conversation never lingered on anything but the most profound with the invitation to search together for all that was pure and good and true.

As I read the deeply moving tributes above, I realized that, not being a musician myself, i was not fully aware of his extraordinary talent as a musician, which he shared in the Boston community over so many years and in so many places. But I did know Bob in the profound ways in which he shared his spiritual yearnings and thoughts and love for God. He was a generous, loving and deeply spiritual thinker, who loved to explore ideas with everyone who would engage with him about the ultimate meaning of life and our purpose here.

I first met Bob when he came into the Christian Science Reading Room in Boston, where I worked, and we became instant friends, often talking for long periods over supper in local restaurants or when he tuned my piano which he did over those 12 years.

He would often call to share inspiration over something that he had been pondering from the Bible, the teachings of Christian Science or other spiritual teachings and schools of thought from around the world. His humility and deep desire to draw close to God and serve Him in every way in his life was palpable, and he often turned others to more deeply consider their own purpose in life as followers of Christ or by whatever form their spiritual practice took.

The last time I saw Bob was at the Church of the Advent on Beacon Hill in Boston, at the Advent service before Christmas this past year, when he invited me and a couple of mutual friends to attend the service with him. We were all moved to be there and felt his joy that we there sharing with him what he loved so much. After the concert we all went to a local restaurant for a time of fellowship - as though we were family....WE WERE. I will always cherish the kind, loving and inspiring individual he was and continuously strived to be. I am saddened that we shall see him no more but am praying to see him as soaring upward and free, feeling fully worthy of and fully embraced by God's ever-present love."

This tribute was added by Cynthia Tyler on 12th March 2015

"I will miss Bob, the wonderful friend he was and the deep thinker and seeker of Truth that he exemplified. It was always a meaningful experience to talk with him, and the conversation never lingered on anything but the most profound with the invitation to search together for all that was pure and good and true.

As I read the deeply moving tributes above, I realized that, not being a musician myself, i was not fully aware of his extraordinary talent as a musician, which he shared in the Boston community over so many years and in so many places. But I did know Bob in the profound ways in which he shared his spiritual yearnings and thoughts and love for God. He was a generous, loving and deeply spiritual thinker, who loved to explore ideas with everyone who would engage with him about the ultimate meaning of life and our purpose here.

I first met Bob when he came into the Christian Science Reading Room in Boston, where I worked, and we became instant friends, often talking for long periods over supper in local restaurants or when he tuned my piano which he did over those 12 years.

He would often call to share inspiration over something that he had been pondering from the Bible, the teachings of Christian Science or other spiritual teachings and schools of thought from around the world. His humility and deep desire to draw close to God and serve Him in every way in his life was palpable, and he often turned others to more deeply consider their own purpose in life as followers of Christ or by whatever form their spiritual practice took.

The last time I saw Bob was at the Church of the Advent on Beacon Hill in Boston, at the Advent service before Christmas this past year, when he invited me and a couple of mutual friends to attend the service with him. We were all moved to be there and felt his joy that we there sharing with him what he loved so much. After the concert we all went to a local restaurant for a time of fellowship - as though we were family....WE WERE. I will always cherish the kind, loving and inspiring individual he was and continuously strived to be. I am saddened that we shall see him no more but am praying to see him as soaring upward and free, feeling fully worthy of and fully embraced by God's ever-present love."

This tribute was added by bob stevenson on 5th February 2015

"As time passes since Robert left us I feel his thoughts and presence on a daily basis.

Always kind and spiritual he had a love of  lighting candles before prayer and ;meditation........

He gave me several of those as well as different religious symbols from different religions, but primarily of Christian origin of course.

When you go to light a candle, light one for Robert and think of him and his unique qualities and his ability to love mankind..........  in a way we will keep him alive that way.

I have pledged to continue what he taught me about practicing "random acts of kindness" for the rest of my life as a good Christian.

He accomplished a lot with me.

Bob Stevenson"

This tribute was added by Jim Cole on 1st February 2015

"Bob was a compassionate, sensitive and intellectual soul, sometimes quirky--but with an extremely funny and witty sense of humor (especially if you tickled his funny bone, it was a joy to hear his laughter!).
A gifted organist and master/scholar organ tuner and voicer, he never ceased to amaze me with the depth of his knowledge concerning the pipe organ. It was always edifying to experience his postlude improvisations based on a hymn tune on Sundays at Old West Church.
I will miss our occasional after church luncheons in the North End at "La Famiglia Spagnuolo" (Bob's favorite) and our shared mutual pride in our Anglo-Irish heritage.

Bob you left us too soon!  Requiescat in pace."

This tribute was added by Fritz Noack on 29th January 2015

"It has been thirty years since Bob was part of our organ shop family. His favorite place was - of course - the voicing loft, where he would passionately "teach the pipes to sing" with George F Handel always looking over his shoulder. We all enjoyed his warmth and generosity and often delightfully weird humor (and shared his requirement that there be a Chinese restaurant near any installation site). He left our firm to set up his own shop, at first still voicing for us. Over the years we saw each other less frequently, but it always was a joy - friends cherishing times enjoyed together.


Now, suddenly, you are gone, Bob. But the pipes you taught so well will sing on, they and we miss you!"

This tribute was added by Lois Regestein on 29th January 2015

"Bob and I shared an organ teacher, Fenner Douglass -  I at Oberlin, and Bob several years later at Duke.  We had a good time recalling Mr.
Douglass's comments, style, and memorable teaching.   Bob's narration of playing a trio sonata for a lesson in his clumpy work boots was  especially entertaining.   Fenner was astonished that he played so well in such ungainly shoes.  

Bob was a talented musician and sensitive liturgical musician.  He loved contributing a spiritual quality in his playing to a church service,  and was pleased when parishioners recognized his doing so.  He seemed at times to be remarkably attuned to the spiritual realm.  One example concerned a vision of his mother a few days before her death, an incident that he knew to be her good-bye to him.  

He was willing on several occasions to help with an organ emergency at St. Thomas Aquinas, solving problems efficiently and often creatively.  On one occasion he stayed in the organ loft for the concert, assuring us that nothing more would go wrong with the instrument.  Typically, he also attentively listened and clearly enjoyed the program.  

A superb musician, dear friend, talented organ builder and fixer -  you are sorely missed, Bob.  If we could reverse anything about the last three months of your life, you would have had the heart surgery and would be vibrantly healthy.    Rest in Peace, good friend."

This tribute was added by Quentin Regestein on 27th January 2015

"Bob’s enigmatic genius remains with us.  He apparently knew all and could certainly discuss anything.  I recently bought Ellmann’s biography of Oscar Wilde; Bob had too.  

Our mutual sensibilities connected us at organ concerts.  Upon hearing a lovingly shaped phrase or an episode of forward moving excitement, a glance towards Bob would reveal that confident, positive, eyebrows-raised, slightly quizzical expression of his; a hand would show thumbs up.  

His years at Fisk and Noack and his tuning for many organizations might explain why he seemed to know everyone in Organland.  I wish a larger audience could have heard Bob's fine organ playing.

I rather enjoyed sacrificing my skepticism to propitiate Bob as he advanced his kooky theories. Maybe he was right that a glass of water left in the sunlight would soak up healthful energy that one could drink.  I hesitate to drink from the glass of water on our kitchen window sill now imbued with radiant energy – it would mean another sign of Bob had disappeared.  

Eventually I’ll drink it.  Eventually his organ tools now lying idle at our house will go on to more productive uses.  The material evidences of Bob’s presence may disappear, but he will forever remain a treasured memory."

This tribute was added by Rob Woodin on 22nd January 2015

"The news of Bob's passing was devastating to me. We worked together at Sacred Heart Church in Waltham for years and were close friends. I had spoken to him a few days before his passing about getting together after the holidays. We shared some wonderful times performing the music for every Sat mass at 4pm, and numerous weddings and funerals at Sacred Heart. Afterward, we'd sometimes go for his pick of "Indian Lunch" in Cambridge or Boston and spend an afternoon hanging around his favorite record store in Central Square. Since Bob didn't have a car, I'd give him a ride to the commuter rail or T, and I'd always enjoy our "jam sessions" in the car singing along to whatever recordings happened to be in his bag. His favorite were the arias from The Magic Flute, he'd sing the coloratura in the high octave of "The Queen of the Night". Bob was an eccentric, colorful and definitively odd duck, who could cast some crazy spells, and was an absolute joy to be around. I'll miss him terribly. -Rob Woodin"

This tribute was added by Olga Limpina on 21st January 2015

""I was serving with Robert at Old West Church for the last seven years. Our last  Service together was the Christmas Evening of 2014. Robert was extremely satisfied with the way this Service went. He was the humblest Servant of the Lord. Always spiritually attuned and grateful to God. Robert lived his life in the spiritual realm. He was constantly contemplating the mystery of life and our place in it. I will remember my long conversations with Robert on the subject of spirituality. He was so excellent in bringing you into the special spiritual world. His language and grasp of “things unseen” was rare. Now, when Robert is no longer with us I wish I spent more time listening and learning from him. Accomplished musician, good friend, creative colleague Robert Byrd will always live in my memory and prayers.
Dr. Olga Lipina
Minister of Music and Arts at Old West Church""

This tribute was added by Kevin Galie' on 21st January 2015

"Bob and I spent many, many days together working on voicing and tuning these past 16 so years, ever since I met him at St. John's Bowdoin street when I was interim Music Director. He had become a dear friend. I hope his soul is at peace, and we will miss a friend, a colorful presence, and one of the best voicers in the Americas. I hope his Christian Science and Wiccan spiritual companions know about this sad news and keep him in their thoughts and prayers, in addition to us, his pipe organ family.

Bob spoke often and very fondly in particular of Fritz Noack and of his former teacher, and my former summer master class teacher, Fenner Douglas. He was also a big fan of the Liturgies and music at Church of the Advent under both Edith and Mark. I learned a great many things in a variety of disciplines from him. All the best, dear friend, Kevin"

This tribute was added by robert patten on 21st January 2015

"bob has been a friend for over 20years. He was a kind caring person and very dedicated to his field of playing and repairing organs he will be truly missed.thank you bob for being such a wonder friend, bob patten"

This tribute was added by Gail Abbey on 17th January 2015

"This is a shock. I always look forward to chatting with Robert in that space between organ tuning and rehearsal beginning. It seems like I saw him very recently, Christmas Eve at Emmanuel? Or was it Boston Baroque Messiah? He was 'instrumental' in the discovery of my baby harpsichord in a dark closet at Pine Manor College. He did restoration work on it, since it had been sitting un-played for a very long time, and tuned it for us whenever we took it out in public. He asked me to sing a number of funerals when he was organist in the North End, and I always enjoyed working with him. He was a great guy, and I will miss him very much."

This tribute was added by Michael Beattie on 17th January 2015

"Bob has been tuning our chamber organ at Emmanuel for decades. I always looking forward to seeing him, chatting about music with him and listening to his unique perspective on life. Bob would invariably sit and listen to a bit of the rehearsal or concert after the tuning. No one loved music more and I am truly going to miss his sweet quirkiness and wonderful spirit."

This tribute was added by Fred Sarno on 15th January 2015

"Beloved companion, friend, and god-child over these past 26 years. Bob got me invovled in classical music, organ playing Reiki and multiple and divergent spiritualities over the years.  Bob was a man of many gifts and talents and diverse interests who will be missed by many for his talents, his honesty and his ongoing and vibrantsearch for truth and meaning in this complex life.

Fred Sarno, O.Praem.
DePere, WI"

This tribute was added by bob stevenson on 14th January 2015

"I had the extreme pleasure of counting Bob as a close friend for the four years I was at the Old West Church.

A good friend, we stayed in touch and shared bits of our lives on a weekly basis even after I had left that position.

Always positivistic, he was a complex man of knowledge and he had a great sense of humor; Bob was a quality person....... always polite and kind to others and sensitive to the needs of those around him  no matter if they were "street people" or his peers.

I will miss him greatly and never forget the things he taught me about life and living it.............. one of a kind.............always there with a kind word in my time of need.

What can I say....... I am dumbfounded.............. there one moment discussing our forthcoming surgery with me to allay my fears....... and gone the next.

The light of his intellect and his kindness shown to me and my wife will never be forgotten.  Let him live on in our memories and think of  him often to keep him alive in our minds.

Good bye, Bob..........I will truly miss you.

Bob Stevenson"

This tribute was added by James David Christie on 14th January 2015

"Bob's sudden death was such a shock. His passing is such a great loss for the Boston community.  Bob was a fine organ builder and built two excellent positif organs for me - one is now at the Oberlin Conservatory and it is used on a very regular basis. He was so musical and his skills in voicing were superb.  He did hundreds of positif organ tunings for me over for the past 20 years and always did an outstanding job.  Bob was a very colorful and complex person and a fine organist.  His last organ teacher at Duke University was Fenner Douglass, who always remembered him with great fondness and affection.  He loved music and listened to a great array of music from medieval through the 21st century - he could talk about any kind of music with great authority.  He served on the board of the Old West Organ Society and took excellent care of the Fisk organ.  Bob was a most important member of the organ community and he will be greatly missed."


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This memorial is administered by:

Mark Nelson

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