Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.- Issac Asimov
Yesterday morning, May 8th, 2016 my Dad died at the age of 96. There is no need for condolences. He was ready and death was not unexpected.
He had a good run. His life was filled with music, travel and many interesting experiences.
I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to understand him as a human being and to engage with him in ways that transcended the “father and son” dynamic.
C. Wm. Shriner/ Obituary
Bill Shriner, a member of The Greatest Generation who became a nationally-broadcast opera singer performing on top stages all over the world, died on May 8th, 2016 in Bloomington, Indiana. Mr. Shriner was a Professor of Voice at Indiana University for thirty years until his retirement in 1985. Prior to his appointment to the Music School faculty he was a leading baritone with the New York City Opera, Fort Worth Civic Opera, Houston Grand Opera and the NBC Opera Theater. He sang leading roles in Merry Wives of Windsor, La Boheme, the Marriage of Figaro, Cosi Fan Tutte, Carmen, Faust, Romeo et Juliette, Rape of Lucretia, Parsifal, The Valkyrie and Die Fledermaus. He also appeared as MacHeath in Carnegie Hall in a revival of The Beggars Opera.
He made his concert debut at Times Hall in New York in 1951 and was signed by National Concert Artists Corporation to appear in Civic Music programs throughout America. For the next few years he sang concerts in forty-two of the then forty-eight states. In addition to Mr. Shriner’s work in opera and he was one of the first of the so-called “serious singers” to move with ease to the light opera and musical theater stages. His appearances at Washington’s Wolf Trap, St. Louis’ Muni, and Kansas City’s Starlight theater and others were noted for their vocal and histrionic brilliance. He sang leading roles in Annie Get Your Gun, Roberta, Rio Rita, Naughty Marietta, New Moon, Desert Song , and Rose Marie. He was considered a quintessential Billy Bigelow in Carousel, and was even briefly considered for the film version that ultimately starred Gordon MacRae.
He was born in Houston, Texas on Oct. 25th, 1920, and began his musical studies in Texas. In 1938 he was part of the first graduating class from the then new Mirabeau B. LaMar High School. While he was in high school, he played violin, bass horn and trumpet. He was a graduate of Baylor University, earning a Bachelor of Music degree in 1942 and a Bachelor of Arts in 1943. During this time he married his first wife, Ms. Billie Guynes and had three children: Ms. Deborah Shriner Casati, Ms. Diana Shriner, and Mr. Charles Williiam Shriner, Jr. While at Baylor, Mr. Shriner studied Voice with Robert Hopkins. He also studied with Paul Reimers, head of Voice Dept. of the Julliard School of Music, and Ms. Clytie Mundy, New York City, and was coached by Otto Herz, Thomas Martin, Desiree Defrere, Arpad Sandor and Felix Wolfes. Mr. Shriner performed under the direction of conductors Peter Hermann Adler, Eric Leinsdorf, Josef Rosenstock, Julius Rudel, and Edwin MacArthur. At Indiana University, his students included Mark Baker, Carole Farley, Roger Havranek, Joseph Levitt, Alan Montgomery, Jeffrey Springer, Kris Vail, and William Vessels.
Mr. Shriner was a veteran of World War II. Commissioned as an ensign in October, 1943, he was detailed on the U.S.S. Ancon, an amphibious command ship, aboard which the now famous battle recording by Blue Network (later known as ABC) broadcaster George Hicks was made during the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach. Hicks interviewed Mr. Shriner while he was under fire as the twin battery gunnery officer. Hicks’s broadcast also recorded Mr. Shriner shooting down the first German plane by a surface vessel on D-Day. When the first Mrs. Shriner opened the Fifth War Bond drive, the record and transcription of Hicks’s broadcast were auctioned, raising more than $100,000. Later, Mr. Shriner participated in the Okinawa invasion in the Pacific Theater. He resumed his musical career after his discharge in 1946.
In addition to his three children, three grandchildren (Anthony Casati, Christopher Casati and Aaron Gershon) and three great-grandchildren, Mr. Shriner is survived by his wife, Christine Margaret Cook Shriner, whom he married in 1972.
A memorial service is planned at St. Marks United Methodist Church in August. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the United Methodist Foundation of Indiana for the “Shriner Memorial Music Endowment.”
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