Marjory Taylor Rasmussen

1923 -

Marjory (Marge) Rasmussen, a pianist and organist, has spent most of her adult years serving as a church musician in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and other denominational churches. She was a member of the SDA Church Musicians Guild for most of its existence and served as an influential officer in the guild at both the regional and national level.

Marjory was born in Bedford, Indiana, the only daughter of Avon and Guyula Mitchell Taylor. When she was thirteen, her parents increased the size of the family by adopting a baby girl. Although neither of her parents was musical and there was no music in the home, she was influenced by her mother's brother, Richard A. Mitchell, and his wife, who were both singers.

She began piano lessons at Indiana University while in grade school and continued them at Indiana Academy, where she also sang in the choir. In her teenage years, she learned the art of accompanying by assisting her Uncle Richard and his wife.

Following graduation from IA in 1941, she enrolled at Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University. She met Richard Rasmussen during that year and in September 1942 they married just before his induction into the army. She recently talked about the circumstances of that time:

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of my first year at college and the entry of the U.S. into the Second World War, everyone knew it would have an effect on our lives. Richard and I dated throughout the year and when we parted at the end of the year, I planned to return to school in the fall.

The war years were kind to us.  During the three years three months and ten days he served our country we lived in Mississippi, Wisconsin and St. Louis. Of the two years at Army Air Force Base, in Madison, Wisconsin, I laughingly say, "He flew a typewriter."  After being discharged on Valentine's Day of 1946, we returned to EMC for the summer term.

Marjory went to school full-time during the 1946-1947 school year and then dropped out in the fall of the following school year. During this time she took piano lessons from Estelle Kiehnoff. In 1949, following Richard's graduation from EMC, the Rasmussens moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he pursued a master's degree in business administration at the University of Michigan. While living there, she organized a small choir and played the organ.

They moved to Livonia in 1954 but retained their church membership in Ann Arbor and then transferred to the Detroit Metropolitan Church, where she became involved in music activities. She started playing organ again and organized a junior department instrumental ensemble.

Not wanting to be a pianist who played the organ without a proper background, Rasmussen started study on the instrument with Ray Ferguson at Wayne State University. She continued with him for several years and advanced to the point of playing music he was assigning to some of his master's degree students. During this time she attended workshops at the University of Michigan under Marilyn Mason, nationally noted organ teacher. Mason offered to take her on as a private student. She was honored but was unable to accept at that time.

Rasmussen did one term of classroom teaching at Metropolitan Junior Academy during which she prepared two cantatas that were presented in the church services. She was also very active in church music in Detroit area churches as a director/organist. One of her ventures was working with the choir directors of the other three main SDA churches in the Detroit area preparing Sabbath afternoon concerts. They took turns presenting in each church on a six-month basis for a few years.

After attending her first SDA Church Musicians Guild meeting in Jackson, Michigan, she became acquainted with other Adventist church musicians. She enjoyed this experience and became very involved in the Michigan chapter of the guild, serving as secretary and then as president of the chapter for a year.

Rasmussen served as corresponding secretary for four years for the national CMG and then as its treasurer. While corresponding secretary, she worked with SDA conference presidents in obtaining the names of as many church musicians as possible, wanting to encourage them to upgrade their skills no matter the size of their congregations. She also served as editor of the Michigan chapter newsletter, The Measure, and through it inspired the creation of a national publication. She recently observed,

I must say that those years were some of my most enjoyable years. I cannot convey in words how important the work with the guild was for me. It was inspiring to work with its members and officers and thrilling to attend its regional and national workshops. When my first grandchild arrived, I decided it was time to be a "granny" and pass along my duties to others.

For fifteen years, Marjory served as secretary in an outpatient psychiatric clinic while serving as organist and director of music activities for Detroit area Adventist churches and in other denominational churches on Sundays. She has quipped that "I work in Sunday churches [which pay their church musicians] so I that I can afford to play for Adventist churches."

Richard first worked at Ford Motor Company and then as Financial Manager of the tool and die plant for Chrysler Corporation, until he retired. Marjory and her husband are now both retired and living in Livonia, Michigan. The Rasmussens had one child, Eric, in 1961. He has worked as a psychiatric social worker in hospital emergency rooms and is presently a physician assistant in the emergency room at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.


Source: Interview with Marjory Rasmussen, December 2011and information provided by her, September and December 2011and January 2014; Short biographical sketch published in a CMG magazine of unknown date.