The celebration honoring Bill Snyder at the Tennessee Theater on Monday was actually the second such event this week.
The day before, the congregation of Washington Presbyterian Church threw a retirement party for Snyder after the Sunday service. The crowd was smaller, but the food was in a league of its own.
Both celebrations were to say thank you to the retired University of Tennessee chancellor and dean of engineering for his keyboard service. In addition to being the longtime maestro of the Tennessee’s Mighty Wurlitzer, Snyder was the organist at the historic church his family has attended for decades.
In fact, Bill and wife Margi purchased a new organ for the church after a fire destroyed the building and everything in it but the bell in the steeple in the early ‘60s.
“Margi and I met at UT, and we were married in the old Washington Presbyterian Church in 1956. I grew up in that church, and when that old wooden church building burned down, Margi and I bought a new organ.”
The congregation presented the Snyders with a metal sculpture of Smokey the blue tick hound by artist Bill Lett and a personalized bottle of Maker’s Mark, etched with Bill’s name. Another church member, Jeanne Stiles, made the keyboard cake.
“To be presented a bottle of Makers Mark by a church congregation is really neat,” Snyder said. “I’ll be retiring from both the church and the theater jobs. No more musical responsibilities for me.”