Farewell to much-loved organist

HUNDREDS of well-wishers are expected to turn out for the funeral of a much-loved organist in Suffolk who died suddenly.Peter Keene, 77, who had been an organist at St John The Baptist Church in Felixstowe for 30 years, was found dead by his wife Joan on March 16, having suffered a fatal aneurism at his home in Oregon Road, Kesgrave.

HUNDREDS of well-wishers are expected to turn out for the funeral of a much-loved organist in Suffolk who died suddenly.

Peter Keene, 77, who had been an organist at St John The Baptist Church in Felixstowe for 30 years, was found dead by his wife Joan on March 16, having suffered a fatal aneurism at his home in Oregon Road, Kesgrave.

Today, she has paid a touching tribute to her husband of nearly 53 years, who was also father to one son, David, 51.

Mrs Keene, 75, said: “When we were first married, he used to go round on his bike to lots of villages to play the organ at church. All his life he has been playing the organ. He loved it. Bach's Fantasia was one of his favourites and that will be played at his funeral by his friend Derek Hall.”

Originally from Ipswich, Mr Keene was a coach builder for Ipswich Council for 42 years. He began as an apprentice for them, and aside from a two-year gap when he was in the RAF for national service, he remained there until he retired at 59.

As a boy, he joined the choir at St Andrew's Church, next to his primary school Britannia Primary School, and was taught how to play the organ at the age of eight by the then head teacher at the school. When he was 14, he became the deputy organist at St Andrew's, and it was there, seven years later, that he met his future wife, when she attended a service.

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He soon got a post as an organist at St Clements Church, off Grimwade Street, where he stayed for ten years, before becoming the organist of St John the Baptist Church in Orwell Road, Felixstowe.

Mr Keene was also a mason and regularly played at more than eight lodges across the region, including Halesworth and Clacton.

Mrs Keene added: “I have received 162 cards from people who know us both. We had interests together and interests and friends apart and it's marvellous to think they have all come together now.

“He hadn't been to the doctors since 1984 and was never ill. It keeps coming to me as reality. His funeral will be a musical tribute to him.”

Mrs Keene's colleagues at Christchurch Mansion, where she has been a guide since she retired, organised a collection, which will go towards planting a tree for Mr Keene in Christchurch Park.

For details about the funeral next week, call the Ipswich Co-operative Society, on 01473 233107.

Have you lost someone special recently who was well known in the town? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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