The AGO Mourns the Death of John Obetz

JOHN OBETZ, a resident of Leawood, Kans., passed into life everlasting on February 12, 2015. We remember fondly his dedicated service to the AGO as a chapter dean, regional chairman, and his membership on AGO National Council that spanned two decades. His inspired leadership, profound wisdom, sage advice, charismatic charm, and keen sense of humor will long be remembered by the Guild. Our hearts are filled with love for John, his devoted wife Grace, son Peter, daughter-in-law Christy, and granddaughters Riley and Taylor.

John-Obetz-08John was one of America’s most widely heard organists. For nearly three decades, his radio program, The Auditorium Organ, reached thousands of listeners each week via satellite broadcast from the headquarters of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now the Community of Christ) in Independence, Missouri. In addition, he concertized throughout the United States and abroad in such venues as Westminster Abbey in London, the Duomo in Florence, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and through many performances with symphony orchestras. His CD recordings are available on the RBW label.

John received both the bachelor of music and master of music degrees from Northwestern University, and earned a doctorate in sacred music at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he studied with Vernon de Tar. Further study included work with Marie-Claire Alain and participation in the International Academy for Organists in Haarlem, The Netherlands. He served as adjunct associate professor of music at the University of Missouri at Kansas City until his retirement in 2005.

John was frequently sought after as an organ consultant and advisor on new instruments. Under his leadership, a new organ was commissioned and built by Casavant Frères for the Community of Christ Temple in Independence, Mo. Most recently, it was through John’s vision and design for a concert organ in Kansas City that a new instrument was commissioned and built by Casavant for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

A memorial service for John Obetz was held on March 12, at 3 p.m., at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St. in Kansas City, Misouri

John Obetz Kansas City Star obituary

Memorial Service Program (PDF)


  1. Kalmin Smith says:

    Was just thinking of this talented and dedicated musician…. so googled him. He played at my wedding in Albion MI during his tenure at the college there. (Albion College). I always had such respect for him.

  2. Norma Stevlingson says:

    I first met John at the Haarlem Festival in 1966. Not long ago I was going through some photo albums as I unpacked them and found a picture of John, front row in Heiller’s class at the Bavokirk. After classes it was so much fun to go with several people including John over to Brinkman’s Cafe behind the church. What a wonderful artist he was. He will be missed terribly.

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