Bill Benedict with his ever present cigarette and guests at a 1989 open house, St.Paul's Lutheran Church, Wicker Park, Chicago, formerly home to THS.

Remembering Bill Benedict

Bill Benedict with his ever-present cigarette and guests at a 1989 open house, St.Paul’s Lutheran Church, Wicker Park, Chicago, formerly home to THS.

Saturday May 26 marks the 10th anniversary of the passing of long-time THS member, volunteer and friend Bill Benedict. Bill retired as a band instructor in the Oak Park, Illinois public schools at the age of 55 and then had a 26 year “career” as a volunteer until his death. Like many others he found historic theatres through involvement with theatre organs. He was a long-time member of CATOE, the local organ club, and started that group on its way by producing public pipe organ shows at the Patio, Montclare, and Pickwick theatres, then at the Oriental and Chicago, among others.  Those shows also called attention to the theatres.  He was a volunteer and captain of balcony ushers at the Chicago Theatre for years. When the THS collections moved from storage at Notre Dame University to a church basement in Chicago, Bill was there weekly, recruiting volunteers, hosting events and scrupulously typing indexes on his trusty IBM Selectric. After the archives and headquarters moved to Elmhurst about 1992, he helped create our museum space and continued archival work until his death. Our hallway gallery is named for him. He was our “executive director” without the paycheck or title. Thanks, Bill, for all you did to make us who we are today!

One Comment

  1. Gary Parks

    I only got to know him a little bit–at my first couple of Conclaves, and when he helped me acquire photos from the Archives to help with my consultation/research for the eventual restoration of the (Fox) California Theatre, San Jose. I was impressed by his organization, and his ordered knowledge, and courtesy.

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