To our loyal members and friends:
The TOSI Board of Directors reluctantly and with heavy hearts voted unanimously to close our doors to any and all new and renewing members and to dissolve TOSI as a legally recognized organization last February. Any attempt to enumerate the precise reasons for this action would be mere speculation. The time simply had come to do this.
Unfortunately, the only way to announce this action is via our website. With the death of Les Hickory, we lost any access to our membership lists. Moreover, this website will go dark once our current subscription expires.
We did have some financial assets remaining. The Council approved a recommendation to use these to establish a “Theatre Organ Society International (TOSI) Dan Bellomy Memorial Scholarship” for three years in the amount of $1000 per year. Further, this scholarship is to be awarded to the overall winner of the ATOS Young Theatre Organist Competition and presented, along with an appropriate plaque, at the competition program during the annual ATOS convention. Should there not be a competition in a given year, we would simply wait until there is one. In this way, TOSI would still be fulfilling its mission in part for at least the next three years or more and would still be in the theatre organ world's eye.
While we are no longer an officially recognized body in any state, we are still a group of great friends and we still have a mission. For a while, we did what we intended to do to fulfill our mission; this scholarship will allow us to continue to do some of that for a few more years.
Following this note is a History of TOSI, its formation, leadership personnel, activities and events for your information.
Thank you ever so much for your interest and support!
FR. GUS FRANKLIN,
THE HISTORY OF THE
THEATRE ORGAN SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL (TOSI)
2006 – 2014
by Jack Moelmann
Around February 2006, personality issues began to surface within the American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS) which were causing some unrest among key members within ATOS. By July 2006 even more unrest within ATOS and in August there was what has been referred to as a "Mass Resignation". Bob Davidson, Jack Moelmann, Fr. Gus Franklin, Dan Bellomy, Russell Holmes, and Nelson Page were among those resigning key positions or membership within the ATOS organization.
The Theatre Organ Society International (TOSI) began with a planning meeting in the New Jersey area September 29-30, 2006, with Dan Bellomy, Nelson Page, Bob Davidson, Russell Holmes, and Diane Walker attending. Their purpose was to form a group which would present the theatre organ in a different way than the American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS) or any other organization for that matter. Fr. Gus Franklin and Jack Moelmann were urged to join the group but they both felt that TOSI was being formed in retaliation against ATOS and they didn't want to be a part of it since both were still active and supportive of ATOS even though they had resigned from their official roles in the organization, Fr. Gus as Past President and Jack Moelmann as Secretary.
It was decided that TOSI would become a corporation registered in the State of Delaware for its ease in obtaining that status. No attempt would be made at this time to make it a non-profit organization but that could follow sometime down the road.
A mission statement was developed as follows:
Theatre Organ Society International (TOSI) is a membership organization for public and charitable purposes whose aim is to promote and present theatre organ performance as an internationally recognized art form.
The Founders of TOSI were known as the “Council” as opposed to being a Board of Directors. There would be a Board of Directors but the Council would be the organization’s foundation and exist without term limits. Fr. Gus and Jack were finally convinced to join the group on the condition that TOSI would not exist as a competing organization to ATOS. That was agreed by the Council and Jack and Fr. Gus immediately began crafting bylaws for the organization while the preliminary actions of incorporation were being implemented by Nelson Page.
Officers were appointed: President: Fr. Gus Franklin; Vice-President: Carlo Curley until November 2007 when he began to serve as Honorary Vice President and John Ledwon was named Vice-President; Secretary: Jack Moelmann; Treasurer: Bob Miloche.
The Bylaws were developed using the content and format of those for ATOS. They were first approved February 10, 2007. They began with following purpose statement:
This Society is a Corporation formed under the laws of the State of Delaware. It is for public and charitable purposes, and not for the private gain of any person. The public purposes shall include:
a. To preserve and promote the theatre organ and its art form;
b. To further public appreciation of the theatre organ and its music with concerts and educational programs;
c. To encourage talented musicians to preserve the art of theatre organ playing.
The Council continued from its beginning in 2006 with members Bob Davidson (Tampa, Florida), Russell Holmes (England), Nelson Page(New Jersey/New York), and Diane Walker (New Jersey/New York) until dissolution in February 2014. Dan Bellomy (Boston, Massachusetts) died August 29, 2008 and left a vacancy on the Council. The remaining Council members appointed Tom DeLay (Fresno, California) to fill the vacancy on October 22, 2008.
Looking at the Officers, Fr. Gus Franklin (Springfield, Illinois) served as President since the beginning.
John Ledwon (Las Vegas, Nevada) served as Vice-President from November 2007 until December 2010. He resigned as Vice-President in February 2010 to run for ATOS Board of Directors. He was not allowed to run for the ATOS Board of Directors that year because of the “competing organization” bylaw issue so he retained his seat as TOSI Vice President. He resigned again as Vice-President in December 2010 to run for ATOS Board of Directors once again because of the "competing organization" bylaw issue with ATOS. He did win a seat on the ATOS Board of Directors. Al Haker (St. Louis, Missouri) assumed the duties of Vice-President in 2011.
Jack Moelmann (O’Fallon, Illinois) was appointed Secretary in 2006. Sam Loring (Fairview Heights, Illinois) replaced Jack as Secretary in April 2009 when Jack ran for the ATOS Board of Directors and it would appear to be a conflict, according to ATOS, to continue in that TOSI leadership position.
The initial Treasurer was Bob Miloche (New Jersey). He resigned as Treasurer, June 17, 2010 for personal reasons. Roberta Clark (O’Fallon, Illinois) immediately took over the position.
All those as shown above, remained in their position until dissolution in February 2014.
September 16, 2007 Jack Moelmann - Silent film “The General” and Jack’s “Tribute to America”; Lafayette Theatre; Suffern, New York - attendance: 78
The event at the Lafayette Theatre had 78 people in attendance, 52 of which paid admission ($10.00 each) which resulted in an income of $520.00 for the day. The sad part about the program was the area-wide power failure toward the beginning of the second half which resulted in canceling the rest of the program. For the record, the program at the Lafayette featured Buster Keaton in “The General” with Jack Moelmann at the Wurlitzer organ. Bob Davidson and Dan Bellomy ran the promo table in the lobby, Nelson Page and Gus Franklin were co-emcees. Diane Walker was the ticket taker. On the day prior, Gus Franklin was featured on the organ while people came into the theatre for the regular movie. Everyone had something to do. An interesting aspect about this program is that about 45 minutes after the power failure started and show had to be canceled, the power came back on. About ten of the people who had bought tickets and came to the program and had to leave, saw that the power had been restored and returned to the theatre. Since we were all there we decided to do the last part of the program for the returning patrons. Jack concluded the program for the day with his “Tribute to America” complete with the movie. The rest of the feature film would not be shown.
October 31, 2007 Jeff Barker, Silent film “The General”; Palace Theatre; Lake Placid, New York - attendance: 67
August 9, 2008 Radio City Music Hall, New York, New York: “Jack Moelmann & Friends” which included: Walt Strony, Lew Williams, Russell Holmes, and Fr. Gus Franklin, and Nelson Page as emcee - attendance 1,000+
This was a presentation of the theatre organ the likes of which had never been done before, even by ATOS. Jack paid out of his own money the entire cost of the program which included rental of the Music Hall, payment of organists and their expenses, union stage crew, and many other incidentals. The Music Hall admitted that there had never been any other single show there which had this much free publicity. Publicity it had, radio and TV spots, newspapers and magazines around the world advertised this program after an initial in-depth item appeared from the Associated Press. Dan Bellomy was originally to appear on the program but his declining health precluded that. Jack invited Lew Williams to take his place.
Making money was not the motivation of the program but it wouldn’t be totally ignored. It did bring the theatre organ to a new high level of public awareness.
October 24, 2008 John Baratta - Silent film: “Phantom of the Opera”; Byrd Theatre, Richmond, Virginia - attendance: 390
November 2, 2008 Lew Williams – Lincoln Theatre; Belleville, Illinois; with the St. Louis Theatre Organ Society - attendance 125
March 3, 2009 Silent film, “The General” with Jack Moelmann & Mini-Concert by Jeff Barker; Byrd Theatre, Richmond, VA - attendance 100
This program had an interesting beginning to it. Jeff Barker played a mini concert before the movie. After intermission, Nelson Page introduced Jack who would accompany the movie. Since the theatre not only had film projectors but also had a video projection system, Nelson’s introduction of Jack concluded with the introductory video from the Radio City Music Hall show which had Jack’s first song, “The Trolley Song” with the Music Hall organ coming out from its nitch in the wall and playing the song through the sound system. Part way through the beginning the Byrd’s Wurlitzer with Jack playing the song rose from the orchestra pit show along with the video. An interesting and somewhat impressive beginning to the second half. The program also concluded with Jack’s “Tribute to America”.
August 22, 2010 John Ledwon - Lincoln Theatre, Belleville, Illinois, with the St. Louis Theatre Organ Society - attendance: 325
August 21, 2010 “Meet & Greet” the artist, John Ledwon, at Jack Moelmann's home, O’Fallon, Illinois. In addition to the social time at Jack’s, John did a mini program on Jack’s organ.
December 3-4, 2011 Mark Herman - Jack Moelmann's Home, O'Fallon, Illinois; attendance: 95. This program was a complete concert on Jack’s Rodgers Theatre Organ.
October 5, 2013 Mark Herman - Virginia Theatre, Champaign, Illinois, a tribute to Warren York; attendance: 375. This program featured the newly restored Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ in the Virginia Theatre and was sponsored in conjunction with the Central Illinois Chapter of ATOS. The program presented Mark in solo performance, accompanying vocalist Anthony Snitker, providing the music for a hilarious short silent film, and leading an audience sing-a-long. This would be the last program put on by TOSI but ended up being extremely well-received and a great tribute to Warren York, the Central Illinois Chapter, and TOSI.
Hall of Fame
Jack Moelmann - 2008
Tina Bellomy (wife of TOSI founder Dan Bellomy) 2009
Mark Herman 2011
As of December 31, 2007, there were 149 members which broke down to 56 Charter Members 19 of who were Founding Patrons and 37 were Regular Members. Membership varied after that with some new members and others not renewing. A final count at dissolution was not available due to the lack of records available after the death of Les Hickory.
Note: The date February 2014 used below is the date TOSI is considered to have been dissolved.
ORIGINAL COUNCIL (2006)
2006-Feb 2014 Fr. Gus Franklin
Feb-Nov 2007 Carlo Curley
Nov 2007-Dec 2010* John Ledwon
Feb 2011-Feb 2014 Al Haker
HONORARY VICE PRESIDENT
2007 Carlo Curley
2006-Apr 2009* Jack Moelmann
Apr 2009-Feb 2014 Sam Loring
2006-2010 Bob Miloche
2010-Feb 2014 Roberta Clark
*Note: John Ledwon and Jack Moelmann resigned from the Board of Directors on the dates shown above due to “conflict of interest” perceptions and concerns in ATOS and their “competing organizations” bylaw which forbids a person serving on the Board of Directors of another organization to run for or serve on the ATOS Board of Directors. TOSI continually made known that it was not a competing organization but a complementary one.
2006-Jun 2009 Jack Moelmann
2009-2013 Les Hickory (Chesterfield, Virginia)
Note: Jack Moelmann had to resign as Executive Director because he ran for and gained a seat on ATOS Board of Directors and they considered it a conflict of interest. Les Hickory was appointed to replace him in that position. Les Hickory died toward the end of 2013 and was not replaced.
(Position established in April 2009 to be a sub-element of the Executive Director.)
2009-2013 Les Hickory
WEB SITE MANAGER
2007 Tom Hoehn (Sarasota, Florida)
WEB SITE DESIGNER & EDITOR
2007-Feb 2014 Joe Loring (O’Fallon, Illinois)
2007-Mar 2008 Dan Bellomy
Mar 2008-2013 Les Hickory
2007-Feb 2014 Nelson Page
ORGAN CLEARING HOUSE
2007-Feb 2014 Bob Davidson
Note: The following items mentioned were taken from the minutes of the meeting held on the date indicated. Several of the actions planned and noted were changed at subsequent meetings or were never implemented for whatever reason.
Sept 29-30, 2006, Initial Planning Meeting, New Jersey/New York area
July 4, 2008, Annual Membership Meeting, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Indianapolis, Indiana, during the ATOS Annual Convention in Indianapolis.
February 10, 2007, First Meeting of the Board of Directors, Jack Moelmann’s home, O’Fallon, Illinois.
a. Nelson Page noted that the incorporation process was on hold pending finalization of the papers required. After that bank accounts can be established. TOSI would be incorporated in the State of Nevada (later actually incorporated in the State of Delaware)
b. Bob Davidson reported he had been working on an organ holding service for donations. He is restructuring it to be a service for providers and seekers possibly together with consignment procedures. He has warehouse space available for parts, etc. and would call this operation The Theatre Organ “Peddler”.
c. TOSI Mission Statement was approved:
Theatre Organ Society International (TOSI) is a membership organization for public and charitable purposes whose aim is to promote and present theatre organ performance as an internationally recognized art form.
d. The draft Bylaws were reviewed and approved with one change which specified that a Council member may not serve as an Officer or as the Executive Director.
e. The draft Policies were approved with a couple of minor changes. They would be continually updated from actions taken by the Board as reflected various meeting minutes.
f. The selection of the Vice President position, currently vacant, was discussed. Suggestions included: Carlo Curley, Don Near, Bob Markworth, John McCall, George Wesner, John Baratta, Kay McAbee, and Jim Cliff. The list was further refined with a priority to those who should be contacted to solicit their involvement. The priority list included, in this order: Carlo Curley, George Wesner, Bob Markworth, John McCall, John Baratta, and Jim Cliff.
g. The web site is ready to go with an Australian ISP. Tom Hoehn was assigned to be the Web Site Manager. Tom will start a development of the web site for review by the Board.
h. Dues Structure:
Regular Membership - $25
Founding Patron - $100 or more
Charter membership will be granted to all those who become members during the first six months following the announcement of the birth of TOSI. Discounted tickets for events would be provided for Founding Patrons while their membership is active. Founding Patrons would also be invited to attend artist receptions, as appropriate. There would be an official announcement of all Charter Members and perhaps a discount for them for certain events as determined at the time.
i. Events: Discussion concerned a first event to be scheduled and developed for TOSI to use in promotional materials. It was suggested that a first initial event could coincide with the 2007 ATOS Convention in New York. Another suggestion was a silent film series in Tampa, Florida, at the Tampa Theatre.
After discussion it was determined to schedule the following for September 14, 15, and 16, 2007.
These would be held at Nelson Page’s Lafayette Theatre, in Suffern, New York.
The following activities would take place:
Friday night – Jack Moelmann and silent movie “The General” and “Tribute to America”
Saturday 1:00 – Carlo Curley – Classical program
Saturday 4:00 – Dennis James – Silent movie
Saturday 7:30 – Dan Bellomy and Russell Holmes – organ and piano program
Sunday 1:00 – Cameron Carpenter – Classical program
Sunday 4:00 – Walt Strony – Theatre organ program
Instruments would involve an Allen digital classical and theatre organ, a Hammond organ, a piano, and the theatre pipe organ.
Sept 21: Silent film presentation at the Lafayette Theatre in Suffern, New York, by Jeff Barker for TOSI.
j. The Programming Committee will be chaired by Nelson Page with Dan Bellomy and Russell Holmes as members.
k. Newsletter Editor – Dan Bellomy
Names were discussed for the newsletter and it was decided that it should just be “TOSI News”
July 4, 2007, Marriott Marquis Times Square Hotel; New York City, New York
(during the ATOS 2007 Convention in New York)
a. Nelson and his people had produced a membership brochure as a handout at the convention. Ken Double was contacted to discuss the new organization. That meeting would be attended by Gus Franklin, Jack Moelmann, and Nelson Page. The plan was to start distributing the brochure to people seen at various events and also at the cocktail hour for the banquet.
b. Discussion continued on the initial event in September. Originally it was going to be Sept 14-16. It was thought that it might be too ambitious so it was decided to just do it on Sunday afternoon, Sept 16, at the Lafayette Theatre in New York with a silent film and variety show program, both of course featuring the organ. Nelson was going to try to get “Uncle Floyd”, a known celebrity in the area, involved with the program. The film could be either “The General” with Jack Moelmann at the organ or “Thief of Baghdad” with John Baratta at the organ. The consensus was “The General”. A budget needed to be produced. It was suggested that the charge for both programs would be $25 or $15 each if bought separately. $50 would be the cost of a package of both programs plus a dinner. It would follow that a one program and dinner package would be $40. Nelson was donating the theatre but money from the concession stand would go to the theatre.
Note: On July 4, 2007, both Mike Cierski and Don Near were the initial ATOS Board member contacts about TOSI and there was an informal meeting held with each of them individually.
July 5, 2007 was the meeting with ATOS President, Ken Double, introducing him to TOSI before any announcement was made during the ATOS Convention.
September 14, 2007, Special Meeting of the Board of Directors, Holiday Inn, Suffern, New York
(during the first TOSI program weekend)
The only action for this meeting was the approval of the following: For those attending the Sept 16th program at the Lafayette Theatre and before they leave the theatre, offer a Founding Patron Membership of $75 rather than the normal $100. This would have to be a cash or check transaction that day. In addition, a regular Charter Membership would go for $20 rather than the normal $25. Membership brochures will be handed out to those interested, but the above deal would not be offered after that program. For those who have neither the cash nor a checkbook with them at the Lafayette to take advantage of this offer, if they complete and submit an application form then and there, they will be given a pre-addressed envelope to use in submitting their check within ten days, otherwise their membership application will be void.
September 16, 2007, Special Meeting of the Board of Directors; Holiday Inn, Suffern, New York
(during the first TOSI program weekend)
a. Concerning the Organ Clearing House, Bob Davidson scrapped everything that he started with. The main problem is not being a non-profit organization. The idea of the clearing house should be launched in the first magazine. He needs to get things going again.
b. We now have a federal ID number for tax purposes.
c. TOSI will compensate any TOSI Board member at most $500 for any one function carried out or service rendered on behalf of the Society. Additionally, no TOSI Board member shall receive more than $1000 per year from TOSI for such services. These amounts are in addition to any ordinary reimbursement for normal travel and lodging expenses as approved by the Board.
d. Planning of future programming: Venues suggested include:
Tampa Theatre, Tampa, Florida
Polk Theatre, Lakeland, Florida
Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, California
Byrd Theatre, Richmond, Virginia
Avalon Theatre, Catalina Island
Alabama Theatre, Birmingham, Alabama
Immaculate Chapel, North Bergan, New Jersey
Plaza Stockport, England
Stockport Town Hall, England
St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois
Lincoln Theatre, Belleville, Illinois
Long Island University (LIU), Brooklyn, New York
Riviera Theatre, North Tonawanda, New York
Dickenson High School, Wilmington, Delaware
Senate Theatre, Detroit, Michigan
Church of the Redeemer, Kingston, Ontario
Polk Theatre in Florida possibly in February 2008.
August 10, 2008, Annual Meeting of the Board; Comfort Inn, Paramus, New Jersey
(in conjunction with the Radio City Music Hall Program)
a. Members will receive a 10 per cent discount on any ticket purchased for any TOSI performance program and a standing invitation to attend all artist receptions which may be scheduled.
b. One or more Honorary Vice Presidents may be selected by the voting Directors (Council members and Officers) as they deem appropriate. Such persons shall be non-voting Directors who have seat and voice at any Board meeting when physically present.
c. TOSI be named as the sponsoring organization, in name only, for the musical program being arranged at the Radio City Music Hall on August 9, 2008
d. Establish a TOSI Hall of Fame Award and induct Jack Moelmann into the Hall of Fame based on his activities and primarily his Radio City Music Hall program.
e. Les Hickory was appointed as the Newsletter Editor replacing Dan Bellomy effective March 2008.
f. The TOSI Logo was approved for use.
December 15, 2009 Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors (telephone conference call)
a. Established the Honorary Member Award and Tina Bellomy was the first to receive it.
b. Appointment of Tom DeLay to be the TOSI Historian in November 2008
c. Sam Loring of O’Fallon, Illinois, appointed by the Council to be the Secretary following Jack Moelmann’s resignation of this position in April 2009.
d. John Ledwon submitted a letter of resignation as Vice President in April 2009.
e. Tom delay elected by the Council to fill the vacancy left by Dan Bellomy on
October 22, 2008
f. Les Hickory appointed to serve as Executive Director following Jack Moelmann’s resignation of this position in July 2009.
g. Some potential programs being considered:
(1) Chaminade High School.
(2) Working with Don Near in Southern California, i.e. Plummer Auditorium
(3) Possible program at the Byrd Theatre in Richmond, Virginia, in the Spring with perhaps John Ledwon doing the program. The Byrd would like a film.
(4) Plans with the Queen Mary haven’t as yet developed.
(5) The St. Louis Fox Theatre will be investigated as a possible concert venue. Jack Moelmann will with work with Mary Strauss, owner of the Fox, and see what can be worked out. Artists for the program would be the Fox staff organists and the format would generally follow that of the Radio City Music Hall show with the addition of a short silent movie comedy.
August 21, 2010 Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors, Jack Moelmann’s Home, O’Fallon, Illinois (in conjunction with the John Ledwon Concert at the Lincoln Theatre, Belleville, Illinois)
a. Council appointment of Roberta Clark to be Treasurer.
b. There is the possibility of TOSI republishing Regional Foort’s book “The Cinema Organ” after discussing the matter with grandson Andrew Foort through e-mail correspondence. Jeff Weiler has offered to assist in a reprint. Need to do cost analysis of republication. There was a preference for having subscribers to provide initial funding.
c. Jack Moelmann obtained a new name for the ATOS web site domain from Domain.com
Total cost: $43.91 for one year
d. Planning for future programming: Presented the idea of a weekend program entitled
“I Love New York Organ Extravaganza” Suggested dates June 23-26, 2011
e. Presented the possibility of having TOSI Headquarters at the Middletown Paramount Theatre, Middletown, New York.
f. Discussed the possibility of offering to take over the ATOS Archive and Library with adequate space and resources in the Middletown Paramount Theatre, Middletown, New York.
The final action taken by the TOSI Board of Directors was to dissolve the organization effective February 2014. The remaining funds would be used in a $1,000 scholarship entitled “The Dan Bellomy Memorial Scholarship” which would be awarded annually (until funds ran out – three years) to the overall winner of the ATOS Young Theatre Organist Competition and presented by a TOSI official at the ATOS Annual Convention.
This concludes the background and history of the Theatre Organ Society International (TOSI).
In its nine years of existence, did it make difference? Only time will tell!
It did live up to its expectations with a variety of unique programs.
Many people supported its purpose and its activities.
Will another organization like this come again? Who knows!