Westmont Magazine Pipe Dreams
When children grow up and leave home, parents usually move into smaller houses. But Carl ’65 and Halie Williamson ’65 Dodrill did just the opposite. For their empty nest, they bought a home twice as big. While their two children moved away, they gained a new addition to their family: an Aeolian Duo Art pipe organ. This Rolls Royce of organs requires lots of space for its 800 pipes.
The Dodrill’s home on Mercer Island is one of the few places you can enter a pipe organ and discover what it sounds like from the inside. With 700 pipes in the basement and 100 more running along the ceilings and walls, the sound surrounds and awes listeners. It took Carl about nine months to put it all together. Even though he is not an organist, Carl can enjoy the instrument whenever he wishes; the Aeolian is a player organ.
When their two children entered college, Carl and Halie decided to find a hobby, and they chose pipe organs. While Halie was a pianist, she had never played the organ, and she was eager to learn. Carl loved the sound of organs and had long been interested in them from a technical viewpoint. Instead he focused on the mechanics of organs and volunteered in a pipe organ shop to learn how they work.
As their enthusiasm for organs grew, the Dodrills founded the Pipe Organ Foundation (www.pipeorganfoundation.org), committed to preserving and playing the instruments. They were concerned to learn that the number of working pipe organs is declining. Noting that the instruments pre-date Christ, Carl is convinced they will continue to be a part of worship for centuries to come. The foundation seeks donations of organs that Carl and other volunteers repair and place in new church homes at nominal cost.
After graduating from Westmont with a degree in psychology, Carl earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Purdue University. He chaired the psychology department at Westmont for three years before moving to the University of Washington School of Medicine where he has taught and studied neuropsychology since 1973. Specializing in epilepsy, he has published more than 150 scholarly papers on his research and is internationally known in his field. The National Academy of Neuropsychology honored him with the Distinguished Neuropsychologist award. Now partially retired, Carl works two days a week at the medical school and spends the rest of his time on the Pipe Organ Foundation.
Halie majored in sociology at Westmont and raised their two children. Mark Dodrill, 32, is a computer programmer and the father of two sons. Susan Dodrill Kipper, 30, is finishing a doctorate in historical theology at Drew University and has a son. She graduated from Westmont in 1993.
The non-profit organization can now accept tax-deductible donations, and the Dodrills will be seeking additional funding. Because the enterprise is relatively new, they have not yet placed their first organ, but will do so soon. Cleaning and repairing pipe organs is a time-consuming, labor-intensive work of love.
“We believe that the pipe organ provides unparalleled opportunities for the uplifting of the human spirit, cultural enhancement, and worship,” Carl notes.