Bartholomew, acoustics expert

W. T.

April 09, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Wilmer T. Bartholomew, a retired professor of acoustics, church organist and choir director, died March 19 of a stroke at the Wilson Health Care Center in the Asbury Methodist Village retirement community in Gaithersburg. He was 91.

Despite being deaf, he played the piano before dinner for residents of the community.

"He could play from memory," said his wife, the former Beulah Dixon, a retired Baltimore County educator. "He brought pleasure to so many.

"During the 1920s, he used to play piano to accompany silent movies at Mountain Lake Park, a Methodist camp in Garrett County, and when the film broke, which was common in those days, he was told to play louder until they fixed it," she said.

He was a research assistant and later professor of acoustics at the Peabody Conservatory from 1926 until 1942, and conducted research on the physiology of the voice and wrote "Acoustics of Music," a textbook on the subject.

In 1939, he became director of the Goucher College Glee Club and was chairman of the music department there from 1942 until 1943 when he left to do research in the underwater sound laboratory at Harvard University during World War II.

After the war, he continued his association with Harvard as a research fellow in acoustics and choral director of the Longy School of Music in Cambridge.

Mr. Bartholomew was choir director and organist at Bethesda United Methodist Church from 1961 until he retired in 1971. Earlier, he was choir director at Liberty Grove Methodist Church in Burtonsville and during the 1930s was organist and choir director at several Baltimore area Methodist churches.

He was born in Shamokin, Pa., and reared in Washington, where he graduated from McKinley High School. He earned a bachelor's degree from George Washington University, a certificate of music from Peabody Institute and a master's degree in sacred music from Union Theological Seminary in New York.

He was a charter member of the Acoustical Society of America in 1940.

His first wife, Elizabeth Vandiver Bender, died in 1978. In 1981, he remarried.

A memorial service was planned for 11 a.m. today at Parker Hall, Asbury Methodist Village, 405 Russell Ave., Gaithersburg.

Other survivors include a son, David Bartholomew of Nairobi, Kenya; two daughters, Molly Webster of New Orleans and Linda-Jo Bartholomew of Palo Alto, Calif.; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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