July 12, 2003 Bellefontaine, Ohio

Band Organ Maker Honored By Ohio's First Lady

Ohio's First Lady Hope Taft presenting award to Donald & Phyllis Stinson

Band Organ Maker Honored By Ohio's First Lady
By Callie Lyons, clyons@mariettatimes.com

Ohio First Lady Hope Taft presented a special award to the only couple in the United States who make their living as professional band organ makers.

On behalf of Gov. Bob Taft, Don and Phyllis Stinson (Stinson Band Organ Company) of Bellefontaine were named extraordinary assets of the state of Ohio because they have "dedicated their lives to preserving the art and history of band organs."

Standing before (one of) the largest band organ they have ever made, the Stinson's' accepted the award from Taft on Friday. The first lady said the honor for the premiere band organ makers was a testament to their "perseverance, creativity, and commitment to be the best."

The Stinson's' were in Marietta as parade marshals for the Mid-America Chapter of the Music Box Society's Band Organ Rally, the largest gathering of band organs in the country.

Don Stinson began making band organs in 1965, but that was long after he had discovered an abiding love for music. "He saw the need for them (band organs)," said Phyllis Stinson. "They were fazing them out."
Stinson used to do work for amusement parks, but now his artistic efforts are diversified toward creating custom organs. "No two are alike," Don Stinson said.

His philosophy is as simple as the melody makers are elaborate: "you learn something everyday. " He taught himself how to perform the craft the hard way, with the same straightforward dedication. "I experimented until I had it right," Don Stinson said. "Of course, you never get it right, so you keep experimenting."

Four Stinson organs are on display in downtown Marietta as part of the rally. While the handcrafted (Stinson) instruments are scattered all over the world in places like Japan, Malaysia, and Mexico, Don Stinson estimates there are about 130 in the United States.

For more information please contact:

(937) 593-5709 Phone • (937) 593-5553 Fax

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