The Shaffer Memorial Organ
Specification: Charles Shaffer and Burton K. Tidwell
Scaling and Tonal Finishing: Burton K. Tidwell
Schantz – 1995
Walsh & Tidwell – 2002
Consoles: Robert M. Turner Organbuilder, Inc.
Main Console, four manuals / Gallery Console, two manuals
153 ranks, 87 digital voices, 240 registers
[Click here to download the complete stoplist]
The Shaffer Memorial Organ had its beginning when Charles Shaffer was asked to become the organ consultant for Westwood United Methodist Church. The original project was to rebuild the church’s 31-rank Möller organ. This organ had been consecrated in 1951 and was given by Pearl Ellis Helms in loving memory of her parents, Elizabeth and Thomas Ellis. Members and friends of the congregation had raised about half the total funds needed for the renovation project.
Charles began with suggestions and proposals on how to best realize the goal, but soon his vision for something better began to occupy his thought. A desire had also come to him to provide a lasting tribute to his wife, Phyllis, who was in failing health. After sharing these thoughts with Phyllis, he presented the church with a check which more than doubled the amount of money available for the organ.
Plans to rebuild the existing instrument were abandoned and the focus was directed toward a new organ that would be musically distinctive both in scope and design. Charles wanted to save what could be used from the existing instrument so that the memorial made by that gift would continue. Twenty ranks were retained and completely reworked and the two blowers, their reservoirs, and various wind lines also were retained. Members and friends of the congregation provided funds for the Solo division that originally was to have come later. After Phyllis Shaffer's passing, at the suggestion of a number of members of the congregation, the church’s Board of Trustees named the instrument The Shaffer Memorial Organ.
When the instrument as contracted was installed in 1995, Charles listened to it and could hear more that was needed. Essential additions were made immediately. Other additions occupied him for the rest of his life. When Charles was told that the organ would be one of the featured instruments at the national convention of the American Guild of Organists in Los Angeles in 2004, he decided to expand and improve the instrument further. He elected to add the Gallery organ as a memorial to his brothers, John and Roy, and as a tribute to other living members of his family. The console for the new Gallery organ was given by members and friends of the congregation.
From the beginning Charles Shaffer and Burton K. Tidwell worked closely to create this unique musical instrument. In remarks written for the 1995 organ dedication brochure, Mr. Tidwell said of Charles, "His desire to explore possibilities beyond the ordinary, and then see that they could happen, has challenged and expanded my own concepts of organ building. Mr. Shaffer's vision and generosity have provided all of us with a lasting legacy."
Charles Shaffer passed away on May 2, 2009 at the age of 78. The Shaffer Memorial Organ is one of the largest organ installations in southern California and crowned Charles’ lifelong commitment to the Church and its music. These interests began when he was a child in Akron, Ohio, and continued through his receiving two degrees in organ performance from the University of Redlands. He had a long career of teaching and playing the organ for several southern California congregations. His generosity to the Westwood UMC’s music ministry also included the gifts of five pianos (in memory of his parents and his wife’s parents), a digital carillon system, and seed money for an endowment fund to care for the instruments.
The Shaffer Memorial Organ is heard weekly in worship, at special events and is featured in a series of concerts presented each summer.