Stockton’s clandestine organist

Today we mark the passing of Richard Timmins, the ex-spy who rocked the magnificent pipe organ hidden in Stockton’s Masonic Temple. He was 86.

Timmins played the organ and piano for seven U.S. presidents. He once played the thunderous organ in Notre Dame in Paris for John. F. Kennedy. He loved the 1921 Hope-Jones pipe organ in the Commandery of the Masonic Temple.

“It’s the jewel of the Valley,” he said.

The blogware is malfunctioning this morning, so I can’t post Timmins’ picture; but you can see him in this 2014 column.

Timmins had a much more flamboyant past than most organists. He served in Military intelligence and the CIA. During the Korean War, his handlers arranged for his capture so that Timmins, who boasted a photographic memory, could identify enemy officers and gather military intelligence.

In his later years in Stockton he played organ at various churches. But he loved the giant organ built into the walls of the Masonic Temple.

“It’s the king of instruments,” he said.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Blog Author

    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • RSS Related Content