Tom Harmon passed away at age 77 after a long illness on November 14, 2016, in Medford, Oregon. He was widely known and highly regarded as a concert organist and educator.
He was born the son of Dr. Thomas and Eleandor Harmon in Springfield, IL, on February 28, 1939, and graduated from Butler Grade School and then Springfield High School with honors. Tom is remembered fondly there as a music prodigy who began playing the piano at age 6 and organ at age 11. He performed regularly at the First Methodist Church, on radio and in local restaurants and lounges. He also is remembered there for restoring the theatre organ from the historic Orpheum Theatre and moving it to the high school.
Tom went on to earn bachelor and PhD degrees in music with honors at Washington University in St. Louis and a master degree in music with honors at Stanford University. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study organ in Austria and pursue his special research interest in the organ works of J. S. Bach. His academic career was devoted to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he started in 1968 as an assistant professor and University Organist. He went on to become full professor and served as Chairman of the Department of Music for seven years.
Tom performed frequently as a concert organist with the major symphonies and choral groups in the Los Angeles area. He also performed live and in radio and television broadcasts across the United States, as well as in Mexico, Japan and numerous European countries. Tom also served for 20 years as organist of the First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica. He retired in 2002 to Medford, OR.
He was preceded in death by his domestic partner, John Crutcher. He is survived by his brothers, Dr. Charles Harmon of Tulsa, OK, and Dr. Bob Harmon of Jacksonville, FL, and his former wife, Sue Harmon of Ashland, OR. He is fondly remembered for his remarkable intelligence, keen sense of humor, generosity and supremely gifted organ music talent.
A service will take place in Los Angeles next February. In lieu of flowers, donations to the American Guild of Organists/Southern Oregon Chapter are suggested (1250 Green Meadows Way, Ashland, OR 97520).