The Mighty Andy Crow (Obituary)

by Ned Hayes and Christian Carvajal for OLY ARTS

June 8, 1933 — July 12, 2016

Andy Crow, regionally renowned organist and musician, passed away on the afternoon of July 12. Crow was celebrated throughout the Pacific Northwest as a musician who was equally skilled on the organ and piano. He played many recitals, wrote original scores for silent movies, and installed and restored organs nationwide. Crow was responsible for the installation of the Washington Center for the Performing Art’s restored 1924 pipe organ, named The Mighty Andy Crow Wurlitzer Organ in his honor.

Andy Crow began piano lessons at age 8 in his native Santa Barbara, California and began to play the organ at age 10. He graduated from the University of Redlands with a Bachelor of Music degree, and from the University of Southern California with a master’s degree in Music Education. During these early years, he worked as the choirmaster and organist for a church in Colton, California. Crow also served in the Army Medical Corps.

He came to Washington State in 1956, having been drafted into the medical corps at Fort Lewis, where he also served as regular organist at the five chapels on the fort. He also became organist at the Roxy, Music Box and Temple Theaters in Tacoma. After his army service, he played at the Paramount and Orpheum Theaters in Seattle.

In 1964, Crow became staff organist at the Rodgers Organ Company, which led to 15 years of touring throughout the U.S. and Canada. He and Ted Alan Worth performed over 350 concerts as the Worth-Crow duo. Crow also served as staff organist for Tacoma’s Pizza & Pipes for 24 years.

Based in Olympia, Crow was active in organ preservation and restoration for both classical and theatrical uses. Most recently, Crow participated in the installation of a three-manual Robert Morton pipe organ at St. Columban Church in Yelm, and an organ custom-built for the Roxy (now Pantages) Theater in Tacoma. He also had a hand in the installation of multiple Wurlitzer organs, including the Washington Center’s Wurlitzer organ. The Mighty Andy Crow Wurlitzer Organ is used by professional musicians and touring artists, as well as for the silent film series at the Washington Center.

Crow had been chosen as the first recipient of The Washington Center’s Excellence in the Arts award, which will be presented to his family posthumously at the Center’s first annual Gala event on July 28.

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