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William C. WILLETT

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William C. WILLETT Obituary
WILLETT, William C. William C. Willett passed peacefully into the unknown on Saturday, (May 21, 2011). His wife of 66 years, Louise, and their children Alani, Joel, Peter, and Janice were at his bedside. He is survived by his daughter-in-law, Prof. Pat Somers-Willett, granddaughter, Susan Cline and husband Ernest, and great-granddaughter, Elizabeth, of Austin, TX; as well as Wisconsin brothers, Donald and Bruce. He was predeceased by his son, Mark. He was 90 years of age and still teaching in his home studio and playing in the Simsbury Community Band and the Valley Sax Quartet. Dr. Willett was an Emeritus Professor of the Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford. During his lengthy tenure, he and Professor Conrad Hemond Jr. of the Engineering Dept. developed the first Undergraduate program in Musical Acoustics in the U.S., and initiated the creation of the first Doctorate degree in Music Education at the U of H. Before coming to the U of H, Dr. Willett taught at SUNY (Fredonia, NY), from 1947 to 1967, where he established the 1st university major in saxophone offered in the eastern U.S. It was patterned after the degree program of the Conservatoire de Musique de Paris. During his tenure at SUNY, he conducted the orchestra and developed an outstanding Men's Chorus and Clarinet Choir. In his later years in the Hartford area, he established the Little Valley Band, specializing in Dixieland jazz style.He also started the Greater Hartford New Horizons Band in 1995; the 75th year of the founding of the Hartt School of Music. He and his wife, Louise, were active members of the Unitarian Meeting House in Hartford for 42 years, where he was Director of Music for 12 years. Bill's many students over 45 years of University teaching (many of whom are performing, teaching, and composing throughout the U.S.) will miss him, as well as his present students and musician friends. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, (June 26th) at 1 p.m. at The Unitarian Society of Hartford, 50 Bloomfield Avenue in Hartford. The Willett family requests that memorial donations in Bill's name be made to the Unitarian Society of Hartford. Vincent Funeral Home of Simsbury is caring for the arrangements. Please visit Dr. Willett's "Book of Memories" for online condolences.


Published in The Hartford Courant on May 29, 2011
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