The man behind the organs

Oberlinger organ, St. John's, Kula

Oberlinger organ, St. John’s, Kula

People have been asking me what my next project will be and that will be a concert on October 19th at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Kula, Maui, home to an Oberlinger organ. They are re-dedicating the organ to celebrate its restoration and it was through my Maui organ student, Clayton Logue, that I received the invitation.

The people at St. John’s perhaps don’t remember that the man who was the driving force behind the installation of that organ, as well as the Beckerath organ at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, was our very dear friend, the late Dr. John F. Hanley, who singlehandedly spearheaded the fundraising efforts for both organs. John was an anesthesiologist at Queen’s Hospital, and he always used to joke that he could put people to sleep— but more importantly, could wake them up!

At LCH, John was the head of the Worship and Music committee and his wife, Cancy, sang in the choir and took organ lessons from Carl Crosier. John and Cancy were so helpful to us in the early years and in fact, even hosted a private wedding reception for our families in their home. John was Carl’s best man at our wedding, and our son’s middle name, John, is after John Hanley. It was in the Hanleys’ Kahala tea house that the organbuilder Rudolf von Beckerath stayed for five weeks while he was voicing the LCH organ, and of course, he loved every minute of his stay in Hawaii. We always say that one can hear the love he put into our instrument, his last in the United States before he (Beckerath) died.

I visited St. John's in 2003.

I visited St. John’s in 2003.

Anyway, the Hanleys moved to upcountry Maui where they found a spiritual home at St. John’s in Kula and became involved in the organ project there. We think that during that time they visited Germany where they became acquainted with the Oberlinger firm, based in Windesheim in Bad Kreuznach, an organbuilding company dating back to 1869 with Jacob Oberlinger. Apparently the company has built over 1200 organs, one of which is the Maui instrument. It has just 11 ranks, but is located in a very intimate and acoustically beautiful space.

The Hanleys then moved to Portland where they joined the parish of St. John the Baptist and John became a deacon there. We visited them in 2006 on our 29th wedding anniversary.

We visited the Hanleys in Portland in 2006.

We visited the John and Cancy Hanley and their son, Paul, in Portland in 2006.

Just now, I was trying to research more about the Hanleys and was shocked to find Cancy’s obituary dated May 2013 which you can read here. I believe the last time we spoke to her was early this past year—she had the habit of frequently calling us up in the middle of the night! In reading her obituary, we were saddened to know that son Paul, also passed away in February 2013.

The three organs, the Oberlinger in Kula, Maui; the Beckerath at Holy Innocents in Lahaina; and the Beckerath at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, are the Hanleys’ legacy. (I initially credited them with only two organs, but Clay Logue reminded me about the Beckerath positiv in Lahaina.)

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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3 Responses to The man behind the organs

  1. david stuart kayner says:

    They were both special people. I remember Fr Turnbull at St Mark’s in his ironic mode saying, “Why does she call herself Cancy? She has a perfectly good name — Clare.” That was the first I knew that.

  2. Pingback: Remembering John Hanley | Another Year of Insanity

  3. Pingback: Gone but not forgotten | Another Year of Insanity

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