Obituary for John ("Jack") B. Moelmann

April 2, 1941 - December 30, 2021

    Jack Moelmann, 80, of O’Fallon, IL, passed away peacefully on Thursday, December 30, 2021, at Memorial Hospital East in Shiloh, IL. Jack was born on April 2, 1941, in Oak Park, Illinois, and has been a resident of O’Fallon, IL since 1986.

    In 1965, he received his Bachelor of Science degree from Bradley University in Peoria, IL.  He then received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and rose to the rank of Colonel at the time of his retirement in1991.  His medals included the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit.

    In addition to Jack's Air Force career, he also had a career in music, particularly playing the organ. Jack started in music (with the piano and as soloist in the church choir) at age 8, and had pursued this avocation ever since. His main interests were classical, theatre, and popular stylings on both the organ and the piano. Jack had been a member of the American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS) since 1967, served on their Board of Directors in one capacity or another continuously for 23 years (1983-2006), chaired several committees, and was the President of ATOS from 1985 until 1988. He was also the ATOS Secretary 1993-2006.   

    He was elected as ATOS Honorary Lifetime Member in May 1994 and inducted into the ATOS Hall of Fame in July 2008. In 2018, he was named the ATOS Organist of the Year.

    He also served as the Executive Director of the Theatre Organ Society International (TOSI). In August 2008, he was inducted into the TOSI Hall of Fame. In July 2009, he was appointed a Staff Organist at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri; served as a volunteer organist at the Lincoln Theatre in Belleville, Illinois; and has been the organist at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in O’Fallon since 2001.

    During high school and college, he was always in demand to perform on the organ  or piano at social functions, as well as concerts in local churches, auditoriums, and theatres. In 1960, he went on a family tour of Europe during which time he was able to play at such famed places as Westminster Abbey in London and the Pantheon in Rome.  Jack became the 2nd military person to perform in concert at the Chapel of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in 1972.

    He has performed and given concerts in many of the famous movie palaces and auditoriums across the country. He has been featured on the TV programs “CBS Evening News” with Walter Cronkite and “Good Morning America”, St. Louis television news programs, as well as many other television and radio programs in support of the American Theatre Organ Society, the theatre organ, and its music.

    In August, 2008, he was the featured performer at an organ concert held at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The concert and his performance were headlined in the New York Times, New York Post, CBS Evening News and covered in several hundred other news medias around the world.

    In 2015 and 2017 he performed at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis, putting on a musical event featuring its Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ. He also served as staff organist at the St. Louis Fox Theatre as well as the Historic Lincoln Theatre in Belleville, Illinois. He was also organist at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, O’Fallon, Illinois.

    He has appeared with Bob Ralston of Lawrence Welk fame in Omaha, Chicago, and Meridian, Mississippi, and performed on the mammoth Kimball Concert Organ in the St. Louis Scottish Rite. He has also performed at the famed Byrd Theatre in Richmond, Virginia, the Redford and Senate Theatres in Detroit, and played at the Arcada Theatre, St. Charles, Illinois. In May 1991, he rededicated the Grand Barton Theatre Pipe Organ (originally from the Orpheum Theatre) in the Springfield, Illinois.  In October, 1992, he made his second appearance playing with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra on the Omaha Orpheum Theatre's Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ during their Halloween Pops Concert Series, his first appearance being during the Christmas Concert Series in 1988. In November 1992, he had the honor of doing the first concerts for the official unveiling of the American Theatre Organ Society Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ installed in the Towe Ford Museum in Sacramento, California. In December 1992, 1993, and 1994, he performed Christmas Concerts at the Rialto Theatre in Joliet, Illinois, on its Grande Barton organ.

    Jack had combined his musical interest and electrical engineering background to put together an elaborate theatre organ instrument (both electronic and pipe) in his home in O'Fallon, Illinois. He frequently entertained groups in his home from around the St. Louis area and beyond.

    He would be found at many of the American Theatre Organ Society Annual and Regional Conventions, not only as an attendee but, on several occasions, as the Master of Ceremonies or as an artist at the various jam sessions. He is an Honorary Lifetime member of the River City (Omaha, Nebraska) ATOS Chapter and a Life Member of the St. Louis Theatre Organ Society. Locally he is a lifetime member of the O’Fallon Historical Society and has served on their Board of Directors and served as Treasurer. He has been listed in Who's Who, the Dictionary of International Biography, and Notable Americans.

    Jack was preceded in death by his parents; John Matthew and Harriet Moelmann (nee Bannatyne).  Jack is survived by his brother, Lawrence “Larry” Moelmann (Colleen) of Glen Ellyn, IL; by his sister, Lynda Shearin (Peter); his nephews, Michael Moelmann and Connor Moelmann; and his niece, Vicki Pullara. 

    A Memorial Service will be held at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 111 O’Fallon Troy Rd., O’Fallon, IL, on April 2, 2022 at 1:00 p.m.  Condolences may be expressed to the family online at www.schildknechtfh.com, and memorials may be made to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.


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