Blue Mountain Television announced on Jan. 25 that long-time donor and recording engineer Roger Thiesen died. The exact cause of death is unknown, but it appears he likely died in his sleep sometime that Sunday night or early Monday morning, said Dan Thesman, BMT station manager.
In just the past few months, Roger volunteered with BMT on the Handel's Messiah project and made a large donation to BMT in order for the station to purchase a new DVD/CD duplicator.
"... We will all miss Roger terribly," Dan said via e-mail.
Audrey J. Renaud was also moved by her experiences with Roger and wrote in a poem, "The keyboard silent, his fingers still, his smile and twinkle now o'er. The music is forever held in this Earth no more. A pad of words from which he shared the talent that God gave sits lonesome now upon the stand."
She recalls that his hands danced over the keys, "To treat our ears with memories of things that once had been (but)are playing for the heavenly choir on keys of silver and gold."
He had "a heart so big, it gave to all with so much loving care ... So mister, though your time on Earth is ended, music done, the mem'ry of those notes lives on -- you're playing for Heaven's Son."
"Let me tell you about Roger," Audrey added. "He was a wonderful pianist. He'd sit at the piano, put his little 3- by 5- list of songs out on the music stand ... and play some of the most beautiful music you ever heard. He had his own style. He could play the 'old' songs as well as some of the rock classics. He specialized in the rinky-tink and honky-tonk styles. Roger was always friendly but reserved. You wouldn't know it by his piano playing."
Audrey first heard him at the Adult Day Center when she volunteered there with AmeriCorps around 2000.
"I sometimes sang along with his playing or played my guitar and accompanied him. He would occasionally take requests. He was a natural at the keyboard. I don't know if he knew how to read music or not, but it didn't matter. What he produced was wonderful, emotional, and heartfelt."
Audrey said Roger played at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds rotunda on the stage and always had an hour-long program ready.
"I know he's going to be missed by many people, some who never even knew his name."
Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or afternoons at 526-8313.