Joseph Chapline
1920 - 2011
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NEWBURY - Joseph Chapline, 91, died peacefully Monday, August 8, 2011 at his home in Newbury, surrounded by people he loved and cherished mementos from his accomplished life.

Born August 2, 1920 in Philadelphia, his love of music developed when he began singing in choirs at the early age of 10. He went on to graduate from Ursinus College with degrees in history and political science as well as a fascination of the English language. Soon Mr. Chapline became a research associate in mathematics at the Moore School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. While there, he contributed to the WWII effort by working on the Differential Analyzer. Shortly after the war, Chapline helped to develop the Binac and Eniac; two of the worlds earliest computers. In addition, he mastered the craft of technical writing and produced a comprehensive manual on how to properly operate and maintain the Eniac. Chapline taught well over 200 classes in technical writing.

In 1953, Chapline returned to his childhood passion of music and was hired as the organist and choirmaster for the Unitarian Church of Germantown in Philadelphia. In addition to the providing the music during weekly Sunday services, Mr. Chapline presented and conducted Bach's Christmas Oratorio nine times and twice performed Britten's Noye's Fludde with his wife, Julea. While there, he championed the cause for a new tracker-action pipe organ, which was graciously dedicated to the church in 1963.

By 1964, Chapline honed his talents and focused his energy on a new challenge, creating intricate and beautiful pipe organs. Influenced by E. Power Biggs and other established concert and church organists in the Philadelphia area, Chapline toured organ factories in Germany and came home ready to try his hands at building and rebuilding organs. Within a year, Chapline mastered the craft and successfully began Chapline Organs. He built and refurbished many fine instruments over the years including the Hook and Hastings Organ which he played at Trinity Episcopal Church in Claremont, until his retirement in 2009 at the age of 89. During his long and productive life, Chapline hand built 15-instruments and rebuilt 15 others.

After thirty years as the Musical Director of the Unitarian Church of Germantown, Chapline retired and moved to Newbury with his wife, Julea. Living on Lake Sunapee was the realization of a life-long dream for both of them. And, although retired, for the next 18 years while living in Newbury, Chapline dedicated his time to being the primary organist and choirmaster at St Paul's Episcopal Church in Concord. Throughout his remaining years, he also played other organs and led many different choirs in various worshiping communities including Jewish Synagogues, Protestant, and Roman Catholic Churches. One of the priests at St Paul's Episcopal so poignantly stated "he played with insight and depth and joy and enthusiasm Joe Chapline did indeed play music with all of his heart.

Joseph Chapline's beloved wife Julea (Stad) Chapline, died in 1991.

He is survived by his children Suzanne Chapline Day and Philip Chapline; five granddaughters; three great grandchildren; all of whom are living in the Philadelphia area and his partner, Rod Torbert of Newbury.

A Service in Celebration of the life of Joseph Chapline will be held Saturday August 20, at 2 p.m. at St Paul's Episcopal Church, Centre Street, Concord.

A reception for all who attend will be held following the service in the parish hall.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to the Lake Sunapee VNA & Hospice, PO Box 2209, New London, NH, 03257-2209.

Bennett Funeral Home, located at 209 N. Main Street in Concord is graciously assisting the family with these arrangements.

Messages of condolence may be offered at

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Concord Monitor on Aug. 11, 2011.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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12 entries
July 31, 2012
I first met Joe Chapline in 1973 when I was looking for an organbuilder who would take on the project of rebuilding a rather stodgy 1920's Austin Organ at Abington Baptist Church in suburban Philadelphia. Although not his first passion, he took the project on and transformed this aged and lackluster instrument into what easily could have been mistaken for a contemporary German tracker organ. He lovingly labored on this project for the better part of two years and completed it in 1975. I believe it was his largest opus, and although 2/3 of it still had Austin works, it was a completely different sort of instrument. It is still playing and used weekly to the best of my knowledge. In the process of this venture, Joe and I became close friends and he imparted so much knowledge to me during that time ... it was incredible. He sopped up knowledge like a sponge, and was just as glad to share it with you. His projects at Germantown Unitarian Church inspired many of my later projects and having known him made me a better person. I left Philadephia in 1977 and Joe and I kept contact for many years, but as is often the case, we loose track of people because of time and distance. I knew he had moved to NH and remained active there, and am pleased to read in his obituary that he continued to be who he was until the end ... one of the most fascinating people I ever met. Condolences to Susanne and Philip ... you know you had one wonderful father!
Thomas Clark-Jones
October 19, 2011
I’m sorry to say that most of what I know of Joe came by word of mouth through my father in law, Robert Fischer. However, on the spare occasions I had to speak with him, I was struck by his singular sense of humility coupled with the confidence earned from long decades of experience. This afforded him the capacity to admit his own mistakes freely, so as to save the attentive listener weathering the same trials.
His readiness to share the lessons of his life and work surely endeared him to all who took the time to seek his counsel.
Mike Ainor
October 19, 2011
My father, Robert M. Fischer of the AIO looked forward every year to the convention so he and Joe could have a good laugh. Joe, you were a hail fellow well met and a joy to listen to. Keep them laughing up there and we will keep organ playing down here. kitty fischer
Kitty Fischer
September 6, 2011
Someone here commented that Joe loved to be listened to. He certainly made it worth the listening! I remember him at our dinner table in Ambler, telling fascinating stories in the most animated and engaging and amusing way! There are few who could equal his delivery of a good story ... and the stories were good, too. Kind thoughts to his family, from John Mauchly's daughter.
Gini Mauchly Calcerano
August 19, 2011
Joe will always be remembered by me as a very unique person. It was very evident that he enjoyed music, people, learning, and sharing the things he learned with both the young and the old. I feel blessed to have been able to listen to his stories and music; see his handywork and craftmenship; hear his stories and wealth of knowledge; enjoy his art of conversation over a glass of wine; and share his wisdom with my students when he visited my class.
His life lives on - through the life, minds and memories of others.
Thank youk Joe.
Gail Szostak
August 17, 2011
I met Joe in 1956 when I began going to the Unitarian Church of Germantown. It was not long before I became a virtual part of his family. For example, I spent a good part of a summer helping them while Joe was at work by driving the family, with the motorboat in tow, from Philadelphia to Lake Sunapee, I built a new dock, got Joe’s sailboat (The Lively Lady) into the water, towed the kids on water skis and even did a lot of the grocery shopping. If you ever saw the movie “ On Golden Pond “, this was about as close as one could get to it. I sang in Joe’s choir, played the clarinet in his orchestra when Joe performed the Mozart Requiem and perhaps the most lasting part, he passed onto me a wonderful appreciation of Bach!

Joe’s mother once told me that Joe liked anyone who listened to him. It is clear a lot of people listened, because Joe developed a great number of wonderful friends. Joe was turned on to a huge number of finer things in life. Many of them rubbed off on me. Right up to the last time I saw Joe a year or so ago and ailing, he was still very turned on. It is clear Joe lived life well and made significant contributions to mankind in many ways.
Scott Turner
August 14, 2011
Summer 1961 in Sunapee
Dear Susanne and Philip,
We are so sorry to hear of your father's passing. He surely had a full life. It's ironic that such a sad event can bring such wonderful memories of summers next door to your family... sailing and swimming to the Lively Lady, the harpsicord that didn't make a sound, hanging out on the old porch swing. We found this picture to share of Joe and Frazer in 1961 on the porch, after a play was performed. Our thoughts are with you.
Barbara and Elizabeth Chalmers
Barbara Chalmers
August 13, 2011
August 13, 2011
Joe was a part of our summer music schedule for years at Camp Ogontz and David and I had many delightful hours with him. I knew he had not been well as we had not seen him the past couple of years.

Blessings to those who loved him and will miss him from David and Cherie Binns
Cherie Binns
August 12, 2011
I just wanted to express my condolences in the passing of Joseph Chapline. I work for Lake Sunapee Region VNA, and I got the chance to go in and take care of Joseph in the capacity of a LNA. My only wish is that I could have known him sooner as he was such an exceptional man. My condolences go out to all his family, and to Rod, who I got to know in the short time I was there. These two men are such amazing people, that it was my priviledge to be there with them in their time of need.
Patricia Glidden
August 12, 2011
Joseph at the 'green chairs' with friends.
August 12, 2011
I had the privilege of meeting Joe at Camp Ogontz in Littleton, N.H. in July of 1999. We were both attending a vocal music symposium sponsored by the Chorus of Westerly, R.I. Our mutual love and passion for great choral music brought us together. We continued to meet at Camp Ogontz every summer. As a fellow organist, I was always interested in hearing what Joe had to share about his organ building career. I had the opportunity to play one of his prized tracker organs at his home studio. He even shared his structural plans for his studio which were an inspiration and guide to designing and building my own music studio which was a dream come true. He was a true gentleman with a great sense of humor. His passion for understanding the true meaning of words and their origin was always a point of interest in his long discussions. He even carried a dictionary in his car in case he needed to know the meaning of a word that crossed his mind. I cherish the love he shared and the compassion he had for others. Dearest Joseph, you will be sorely missed at the 'green chairs.' Thank-you for all your contributions that have touched the lives of so many people!
John Pivarnik
August 11, 2011
Joe was a wonderful, charming and caring man who offerred joy to everyone he came into contact with. I will miss him greatly.I consider myself lucky to have been able to work with him in the past and will always cherish my memories of him. He played the music for my Father's funeral and even played my Dad's favorite song..."Stardust Memory". Thank you Joe for all you were you will be missed.
Katherine Rogers
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