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Trumpet call for Harry Stillwell

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GENERAL JARL WAHLSTRÖM pins the Order of the Founder badge on retired Bandmaster Harry Stillwell during the 1983 Western Centennial Congress. Commissioner Will Pratt, then territorial commander, looks on.



This trumpeter never blew an uncertain sound.

Harry Stillwell, O.F., is promoted to Glory –to walk with the saints in fellowship. He finished the course with a magnificent flourish that matched the steady style of his life. His consistent, courageous and creative Christian witness resounded through the decades of his existence with steady clarity, with vibrant vitality, and magnetic beauty.

This was a man to count on–one who had a clear sense of personal mission and a significant commitment to Christ and the Army. He was a friend to all he met–devoid of any false airs, charismatic in the captivating nature of his relationships yet liberating as those around him gained a greater awareness of their worth.

He was admitted to The Salvation Army’s Order of the Founder, the most prestigious honor bestowed on a Salvationist, by General Jarl Wahlström. It was very fitting, for he moved in harmony with the Founder. He caught the tempo of the Army spirit from dedicated officer parents. He taught it to his brothers and sisters as the oldest of a family of six.

While almost always in the spotlight, he never sought it. His skills of musicianship and leadership were exceptional. His effort–often beyond what was required or even expected–was unsurpassable.

His promotion to Glory came on May 15, 2001, from the Beverly Nursing Home in Lake Mary, FL.

Harry was born into a Salvationist family in Chicago, IL, on February 23, 1914. His grandparents were Western pioneers Majors Henry and (later Lt. Col.) Mary Stillwell, who were sent by William Booth in 1883 to open the Army’s work in San Francisco and other cities throughout California and Oregon.

His parents, (later) Lt. Colonels Harry Bramwell Stillwell, Sr., and Esther Stillwell volunteered for full-time service in 1918 and were appointed as officers without the benefit of formal training to the Lytton Children’s Home near Healdsburg, CA.In 1937, Harry married Ruth Wilde. Son Ronald was born in 1939, and Randall in 1946.

By the age of 18, Harry was a trumpet virtuoso. He became a soldier and bandsman of the Los Angeles Congress Hall Corps in 1934 and was appointed bandmaster in 1941 at age 26, serving for 31 years until retirement. Among the highlights of his career are international tours, Congresses, appearances at the Hollywood Bowl, and 20 years of leading the Tournament of Roses Band.

He continued to be active after retiring from the U.S. Postal Service. He was a regular bandsman and soldier at the Hollywood Tabernacle Corps and then the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps, and he served as The Salvation Army’s Ventura County, CA, Director of Service Extension until 1980. He remained active with the League of Mercy until 1997, and was a loyal member of the Thousand Oaks, CA, Kiwanis Club, for the past 25 years, leaving an indelible mark on the club and community.

He is survived by sons Ronald and Randall, daughters-in-law Carolyn and Jan, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. His wife Ruth died in 1997.

A service of celebration and remembrance will be held Sunday, June 3, at the Pasadena Tabernacle Corps at 3 p.m., led by Colonel George Church.

In lieu of flowers, a donation (to be divided between the Harry Stillwell Music Camp Scholarship at Camp Homelani, HI, and the WMI Honor Camper Stillwell Family Award) may be sent to Randy Stillwell (address below.)

Messages of sympathy may be sent in care of Randy Stillwell at 1554 N. Ridge Lake Circle, Longwood, FL 32750-4556.

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