Washington, DC, July 28, 2003
Funeral of Canon Emeritus Richard Wayne Dirksen
Former Organist-Choirmaster and Precentor
Canon Emeritus Richard Wayne Dirksen Has Died
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Canon Emeritus Richard Wayne Dirksen, Washington National Cathedral’s former organist-choirmaster and precentor, died Saturday morning, July 26, at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 82 years old. His funeral service will be held at 2 pm on August 26 at Washington National Cathedral.
Canon Dirksen, a native of Freeport, Illinois, served on the Cathedral’s staff for 48 years. In 1942, during his final year at Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory, he was invited to join the Cathedral as assistant organist and choirmaster. He resigned the position in 1964 to become the Cathedral’s first director of programs. In 1968 then Cathedral Dean Francis B. Sayre, Jr., appointed him precentor with responsibility for planning and overseeing all worship services at the Cathedral. He was believed to be the first layperson appointed to that position in the 400-year history of the Anglican Church.
While continuing to head the worship department he was appointed the Cathedral’s fourth organist-choirmaster in 1977, a responsibility he relinquished in 1988 to focus full-time on planning events to celebrate the completion and consecration of the Cathedral. He was named a Cathedral Canon in 1982. He retired April 1, 1991.
Canon Dirksen authored nearly 300 musical works for choir, instruments and theater. In 1994 he published An Annotated Catalog of Music Composed by Richard Wayne Dirksen (Oxford University Press). He won an Emmy Award from the Washington DC Area Television Academy for “Six Carols and Lessons” televised December 24—25, 1965, on WTTG-TV.
Canon Dirksen’s honors include Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa, The George Washington University; Doctor of Music, honoris causa, Mount Union College, Alliance, Ohio; Distinguished Alumni Award, Peabody Conservatory of Music; and the Medal of Excellence, Shenandoah Conservatory.
He is survived by four children: Richard S. Dirksen, Washington, D.C., Geoffrey Dirksen, Washington, D.C., Laura Dirksen Green, White Hall, Maryland, and Mark Dirksen, Fairhaven, Massachusetts; six grandchildren; and siblings Garriet Dirksen, Palm Springs, California, and Phyllis Mae Dirksen, Madison, Wisconsin.
SOURCE: Washington National Cathedral