Donehoo-Lewis Funeral Home - Hapeville
736 S. Central Ave.
Hapeville, GA 30354
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Frank Willingham

Obituary Condolences

Family-Placed Death Notice

WILLINGHAM, Frank FRANK D. WILLINGHAM Frank Doty Willingham died March 26, 2011 at Southwest Christian Care Hospice. He was born December 21, 1914 in College Park, Georgia to Baynard Willingham, Sr., founder of Piedmont Cotton Mills and Egan Cotton Mills, and Lucile Doty Willingham, a Mayflower descendent. His parents and other community leaders donated land to build the Southern Military Academy, now known as Woodward Academy. Frank was a graduate of the University of Southern California and attended Westminster Choir College. He was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during World War II, stationed in North Africa, where he was in charge of a large supply store. Frank studied with professional organists Alexander McCurdy and Eda Bartholomew. He was a charter member of the American Theater Organ Society and a longtime member of the American Guild of Organists. He received an award for lifetime achievement from ATOS Atlanta Chapter in 2006. He enjoyed rebuilding pipe organs and attending national theater organ conventions. Frank was fascinated by pipe organs and began studying music when he was eleven years old. As a young boy, he purchased an artist grand piano with money he earned milking cows. When he was a teenager, the College Park Baptist Church gave him a reed organ. Frank played the organ as it was brought home through the streets of College Park on a dray from the mill. He served as church organist and choir director from sixteen years of age until his late eighties at the following churches; St. John's Episcopal Church, College Park Baptist Church, Baptist Tabernacle, Gordon Street Presbyterian Church, Bethany Presbyterian Church, College Park First United Methodist Church, and Southwest Christian Church. Frank was knowledgeable about pipe organ construction. He designed specifications and oversaw the installation of church pipe organs, including both College Park First United Methodist Church and College Park Presbyterian Church. With the help of ATOS friends, he installed two theater pipe organs in his College Park home. Frank is survived by his wife of sixty-three years, Jane Sparks Willingham; children, Stephen and his wife Susan, David, and Carol; grandchildren, Christopher, Melissa, and Justin and his wife Tiffany; great grandchildren, Nathan, India, and Amelia; and several nieces and nephews. Frank was preceded in death by siblings, Baynard, Tommy, and Lydia; and grandson Eric. Frank will be remembered for his generosity and sense of humor. The family wishes to express it's heartfelt gratitude to devoted friend Deborah James, Frank's dedicated caregiver Samuel Onyebuchi, and the loving and professional staff and volunteers at Southwest Christian Care Hospice who blessed him with divine grace, peace and comfort in his final weeks. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Frank's memory to Southwest Christian Care Hospice, 7225 Lester Road, Union City, Georgia 30291: www.swchristiancare.org. A memorial service will be held on Monday, April 4, 2011, with musical preludes beginning at 1:30 p.m., at Southwest Christian Church. Dr., James Donovan and Minister James White will officiate. Visitation in the church gymnasium will follow the services at 4330 Washington Road, East Point, Georgia 30344. Donehoo-Lewis Funeral Home, Hapeville. 404-761-2171 www.donehoo-lewis funeralhome.com
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Mar. 31, 2011
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