In Memoriam: Francis M. Elliott
It is with sincere regret that I learned this weekend of the passing of my very good friend Francis M. Elliott, formerly of Manassas, Virginia. Francis had been organist at the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Manassas, which is home to Odell opus 80. Francis had stepped down in 2013, but held the position at the church for over 20 years. Francis' brother, the late Rev. Dr. Edwin Elliott, was the Pastor. In addition to their work together at church, Francis and Edwin edited and published the Christian Observer, which is America’s oldest religious magazine. The magazine is still in publication, today edited by Bob Williams.
I came to know Francis around 1992 or 1993. It was a very early and uncertain time in my career as an organ builder, but because of his particular interest in the Odell firm, Frances made a point to befriend, assist and encourage me, something he continued to do over the years. Francis invited me to visit with his family and come see opus 80, and took me around to see historic instruments in the greater Baltimore area, including Odell opus 277 (Jenkins Memeorial) and 315 (Bethel A.M.E., formerly St. Peter’s). Francis was active in the Hilbus Chapter of the OHS, and through them, referred me to St. Luke’s Episcopal in Brighton, Maryland, for whom I did a series of small projects as I was getting started in those early days.
While I had recovered and placed the original Odell company records at at the American Organ Archives at Talbott Library in Wesminster Choir College in 1995, it is thanks to Francis that I have a full copy set of the those records, as well as some other valuable family heirlooms which he managed to acquire while researching a never-completed book about the Odell company. After kindly returning those materials to me, Francis continued to follow my career with interest and we remained in touch over the years. He expressed great pride in how I had not only reestablished the firm, but continued to burnish my skills and build the company's resources to include key elements of organ building with millwork, cabinet making, mechanical action and most especially pipe metal casting and pipe making.
I am presently waiting for world about funeral arrangements and will post them when they become available.
"Well done, good and faithful servant."