If you’ve been to Glenmore Temple, then you’ve probably met “Uncle Bill” Stunell – he’s quick with a hand shake and a big “Hello” to any new visitors. If you’re someone he hasn’t seen for a while, you won’t be able to leave before he catches up to you. It’s his warmth, his caring concern for everyone, his sense of humour and his character – and if you know him, you know he’s a ‘character’ – that’s given him the honorary title “Uncle”.
He’s been involved in the corps musical forces for over 70 years, starting in the junior band in 1937 and moving up to the senior band in 1945. Over the years, Uncle Bill has played almost every instrument in the band, and also spent 7 years as the bandmaster.
His father, Charlie, served 38 years as the YP bandmaster. Uncle Bill is understandably proud of his father. “Thirty-eight years [as the YP band master] has to be a record. It was his life.” It was because of his dad’s example that Uncle Bill also spent 7 years leading the YP band. He has been instrumental (pun intended) in teaching numerous young people to play, both in the beginners’ band at the corps, and also at Pine Lake Music Camp. There are many young people that Uncle Bill remembered from camp, and when they came to the corps many years later, he made sure they knew there was an instrument waiting for them in the senior band.
After 69 years in the Glenmore Temple Band, Uncle Bill decided to retire. To honour his dedication and service, the band hosted a dinner for him. It was a great evening, full of stories and jokes – you can’t have a dinner for Uncle Bill without jokes. In fact, Don Royan, a fellow bandsman and a long-time comrade of Uncle Bill, observed (with tongue firmly in cheek) “we had this same celebration for Uncle Bill 30 years ago, but he never took the hint!”.
When Uncle Bill finally got a chance to respond, he told us it was the camaraderie that meant the most to him. His fondest memories were of the band trips. There was a trip to Montana, where the band played to an audience of 25, in a school gym that had seats for 1,000; a trip to Rockford, IL, where he got to meet Bill Himes again; and a trip to Newfoundland where he was officially ‘screeched in’ (minus the screech), and where he traded his band Stetson for a sou’wester for the rest of the trip.
Now, after a long and illustrious career, he’s changed his seat in the first baritone section for a more comfortable spot in the first pew on the left, but any one of us will tell you, he’s still a big part of the band. On behalf of the Glenmore Temple Band, we want to thank Uncle Bill for his dedication, his inspiration and his example as a friend, a musician and a servant of Christ. Uncle Bill, it has been a pleasure to serve with you!Share