William F. Young, Sr.

1934 -

William (Bill) Young, a euphonium player and tenor singer, taught music in the Seventh-day Adventist school system at four academies and one college during his music career. Primarily a band director, he also directed choral programs at two academies.

Bill was born and raised on a farm near Cataract, Wisconsin, the son of Lawrence and Mabel Dill Young, talented amateur musicians. His mother was a singer and his father a fiddler who played by ear. Bill started accompanying his father by chording on a piano and organ at an early age, an experience he later described as wonderful ear-training.

In his high school, a small school of 120, the band director needed a tuba player and Bill was recruited. He also did some singing in a male quartet during those years. He attended Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, following graduation from high school, enrolloing as a music major.

Beginning in his sophomore year, he taught thirty to forty music lessons as a way to work his way through college. He also started beginning bands in Niles, Benton Harbor, and Berrien Springs, Michigan, spending four to eight hours a week at each school. In 1955 he married Marva Jean Shugars, a pianist and singer, and in the following year completed a B.S. degree in music education, with euphonium as his major instrument.

Immediately as Young graduated, he was hired to teach band and choir at the academy near the college, for $55 a week. After two years there, at the urging of his father-in-law, who thought he wasn't making enough money, he sold life insurance for a year before deciding to return to teaching.

In 1959 Young accepted a band directing position at Forest Lake Academy in Florida, where he taught for one year. In the course of that year, he and his wife became aware of a medical condition in one of their children that led to a decision to return to Michigan to be nearer the child's grandparents.  A music teaching position opened at Cedar Lake Academy, now Great Lakes Academy, in Michigan at that time and he was hired.

He directed both the band and choir at CLA for two years before accepting leadership of the band at Adelphian Academy in Michigan. It was a larger school and by the end of the first semester, he was teaching over fifty lessons. When he left two years later, there were 85 students in the band. In later years, Young would recall his time at AA as the most satisfying experience in his career as a musician. While at AA, he completed an M.Mus.Ed. at Michigan State University in 1963 and subsequently spent four summers pursuing a doctorate.

During his second year at AA, Young was invited to direct the band at Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University, in Tennessee, beginning in the 1964-1965 school year. After teaching at SMC for four years, he left to begin a career with the Social Security Administration as a claims representative.

In 1971, after three years with the SSA, Young was offered a job as Assistant Personnel Director at McKee Baking Company in Collegedale, Tennessee, a position he held for a year. During that time he learned about an opening for a development director at WAUS FM, radio station at Andrews University, and applied. Within six months, he became station manager also.

However, due to financial constraints at AU and a lack of support, Young left after two years, when offered a position as claims representative for Social Security in nearby Benton Harbor. He continued with that work, living in the Midwest and West, until his retirement in 1996, when he returned to Wisconsin to live near relatives and the family farm.

While in Tennessee, Young sang as a tenor soloist in an area Presbyterian church and also served as choir director at another Presbyterian church. When he left Tennessee, he didn't do anything in music until 1985, when, inspired by the artistry of Horace Lazzari, a professional accordion performer living in the community, he bought an accordion while working in Walla Walla, Washington, as a claims representative.

Utilizing recent innovations in synthesizers and electronic equipment, he created a one-man band using his accordion as the central instrument. It has become a popular musical feature, and he plays and sings frequently at programs.


Sources: Interviewwith William F. Young, Sr., August 2008; personal knowledge.