By Darren Lum
Sometimes in life the best things are not recognized until they’re gone.
However, St. George’s Anglican Church didn’t make that mistake when it came to the 60th anniversary for Bill Gliddon’s service as organist (and many other things that needs to be done) at the Haliburton church.
They gave him his due and, if you ask him, they went above and beyond necessary a few weeks ago last month with speeches and gifts. It’s an answer that is true to Bill, a past Highlander of the Year Award winner.
The retired music teacher is far from a memory. He is a picture of health, with his ever-present smile and verve for life, whether it’s his service to the church he loves, his small yield of crops he grows on his property, which he gives to neighbours and friends, or to giving his time to people who share their thoughts and how he made sure to sing to residents over the phone, who were isolated at the local long-term care facility because of COVID-19 health measures.
He never looks for credit, but he beamed about how people gifted him various tokens of appreciation like the father of a family, who receives home made cards from their children.
Bill appreciated the acknowledgement of the milestone, which technically won’t be achieved until the year is completed. With a laugh, he added that he’ll take a cake at the 75th anniversary, which is something he thought is more deserving of a milestone.
He never imagined he would have held his position this long and said it’s humbling when he thinks about others before him. It isn’t about hitting any anniversaries, as much as giving back for Bill.
“I just think of what I have to do and to help the service go smoothly and to be inspiring because, you know, you got to have music in worship. It’s just part of the worship of every faith. I so enjoy doing that and, if people benefit from it that’s a good thing. It makes me happy,” he said.
His highlight was when the church celebrated its 150th anniversary a few years ago and invited the Anglican’s diocese’s bishop to come to Haliburton, who was regaled by an original piece performed by the choir and written by Bill. This event also included the church choir who performed the anniversary song, which he also wrote, on the dock, as the bishop arrived by boat, as a way to retrace the historical moment when the first chairman of the Canadian Land and Emigration Company arrived by boat in Haliburton and decided on the current location for the church in 1864.
St. George’s interim priest-in-charge David Barker (second time as interim) said Bill is very humble and sensitive man, who gives everything to the church.
“In both cases, working with him has been a joy and a delight. He’s very sensitive in terms of choosing good music to set the theme of the day and that’s an important part of our Anglican tradition … we have scriptures provided for us to set a theme and then we try to work the sermon in the hymns and all the music, everything should kind of fit in with that. Bill is really good at doing that, so it makes the whole worship experience much more beautiful when it’s all synchronized and all following the same theme,” he said.
He adds Bill has always encouraged young people to join the church and the choir. There’s been times he has provided solo choir efforts to young people, which is not the usual thing for church choirs, David adds.
He was also part of the congregation for 10 years before taking over and was on the choir with his wife. This came about from an invitation by Bill to just come and see the choir during practice. To David’s amazement, Bill had hymn books with their names on them and gowns ready.
“And that’s typical of Bill. He’s always looking for ways to include people. Make people feel welcome. That’s one of the wonderful things about Bill in the 10 years I’ve known him,” he said.
He adds one of the many attributes for Bill is his adaptability, which makes him an ideal accompanist when it comes to leading a church choir.
David has more than 40 years of working church experience before he retired and then became interim priest-in-charge here. He hesitated to say Bill is the best he’s worked with, believing it would be a disservice to others before, but said he ensured retirement has been a good time.
“He has brought joy and lightness in my retirement. I think musically, joy, and joy in life in my retirement,” he said.
Bill’s organist service time started in 1962.
It was a different time. What was true then is still true today though. Bill is a constant. He may move a little slower and have little less hair and a few more lines on his face, but he loves this community and his service and commitment is the same then as it is today.
Bill lives by this motto
At the bottom of the stairs in St. George’s choir room is a sign with a quote from Mother Theresa. He put it there for his choir members to see before going to the service, it reads: Let’s do something beautiful for God.
“So, that’s sort of been my motto. That’s what I’ve tried to do with varying results. That God is patient and has a sense of humour. Obviously, when you [have to] put up with me,” he said, laughing.