Edgar Parke Billups thumbnail

Edgar Billups

February 24, 1934 - November 11, 2009

Edgar P. Billups, 75, of Etowah, NC, died Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at the Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard.

He was the son of the late Mary Ruth Person Billups and Edgar Billups, a Methodist minister who served the church in Brevard when Edgar was a young boy. He was preceded in death by his son, E. Parke Billups.

He entered Syracuse University in 1952 and earned a Bachelor of Music degree. Awarded a Fulbright in 1957, he spent a year in Germany studying with the renowned blind organist and noted Bach interpreter, Helmut Walcha. He returned to Syracuse and earned a Masterís degree in organ in 1960. Billups also undertook choral studies with Sir David Willcocks and Robert Shaw and orchestral conducting with Elizabeth Green.

In the summer of 1969, he was appointed organist-choirmaster to All Saintís Church in Pontiac, MI, a position he held for five years. He then moved to a similar post at Christ Church in Grosse Pointe, MI, where he remained for a decade. In 1975, he was called to the Parish of Saint Paul in San Diego, CA, where he served until his retirement at the end of 2002.

From 1976 until his retirement, Billups served on the faculty of the University of California at San Diego as Lecturer in Organ; since 1958, he had also taught organ privately. He served as Dean of the Detroit Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and as President of the Association of Anglican Musicians, a national organization of musicians, clergy and laity within the Episcopal Church. In 1997, he was created a Cathedral Canon, perhaps the highest honor the church can bestow on a layman, and he served as Canon Precentor until his retirement.

Signal honors have included a Concurrent Resolution of Tribute from the Michigan State Legislature and Michigan Teacher of the Year. For a number of years, he was listed in the International Whoís Who in Music, and in 2002, the International Biographical Society of Cambridge, England affirmed him as one of the outstanding musicians of the Twentieth Century. He was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.

He was a model train enthusiast and served on the Board of Directors of the Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Society. His book on the George Washington, a classic American train, is soon to be published.

He is survived by his loving wife, Janet Billups of Etowah and daughter, Brooke Redgrave of Baltimore, MD.

Edgar will always be known for his rapport with people and many have noted, ìHe never met a stranger.î

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

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