For the last few days, I’ve been working on the program for the Maui concert I’m doing at St. John’s, Kula on Saturday, March 22nd, at 6:30 pm. The concert will be dedicated to the memory of Dr. John Hanley, his wife Claire Frances “Cancy”, and son Paul Hanley. I was skimpy on some of the details of the instrument’s installation, so I called the former rector, The Rev. Heather Mueller, who was happy to fill me in on the details.
Here is the story, as recounted in my program notes:
The Oberlinger Organ (1987) was the dream of St. John’s former Senior Warden, Dr. John Hanley, who moved from Honolulu to Maui after spearheading the successful fundraising and installation of the 33-rank Beckerath Organ at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, in addition to the Beckerath positiv organ now located at Holy Innocents Church in Lahaina. 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 the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, 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 was the best man at the Crosiers’ wedding in 1977 and their 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 organ.
In 1984 when Dr. Hanley first proposed a pipe organ for St. John’s to replace its aging electronic instrument, he offered a generous sum to begin the process but met only a lukewarm response. The former rector, The Rev. Heather Mueller, who became the first female rector in province 8 of the Episcopal Church (due in part to the efforts by John Hanley), says that her inexperience in administrative matters allowed her to call for a vote at the annual meeting on the matter of the pipe organ, and it failed by a 49-48 margin.
Shortly afterwards, it was on a misty Kula Saturday afternoon when she came upon a man sitting in the church, who said his wife was dying. He wanted to give money to the church, and asked Rev. Mueller what was needed. She said they needed an organ, but the building required perhaps $25,000 in repairs before an organ could be purchased. The man, whose name was John Rogers, said that his grandfather had been an organbuilder in Ulm, Germany, and that $25,000 would not be a problem.
Some months passed, and Rev. Mueller ministered to Mrs. Rogers and conducted her funeral service in August. It was a few months later when a bank check came in the mail in the amount of $175,000. At that time, a call was placed to Bishop Edmond Browning, who suggested that the church form a committee to look at the long-range needs of the parish, and the organ project became part of an entire building expansion, including a new roof, and three Sunday School classrooms. In addition, 10% ($17,500) was designated for outreach and $5,000 went to the pastoral fund for distribution to the needy.
After receiving bids from at least six organbuilders, the Oberlinger firm was chosen to build a new organ, and John Hanley was very instrumental in communications between the firm and the church. During the organ’s construction, the Hanleys visited the Oberlinger firm, based in Windesheim in Bad Kreuznach, an organbuilding company dating back to 1869 with Jacob Oberlinger. The firm had built over 1200 organs, one of which is the one here in Kula. Unfortunately, the company no longer exists.
John Hanley was ordained a Deacon at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Wailuku, then the Hanleys then moved to Portland, OR where they joined the parish of St. John the Baptist. The Crosiers visited them in 2006 on their 29th wedding anniversary. John Hanley died of complications of diabetes a few years ago; last year son Paul died in February, and Cancy Hanley died in May 2013.
So, that’s the story of the Oberlinger organ in Maui.