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Stanley E. Saxton

Stanley E. Saxton

July 24, 2002

Stanley E. Saxton, professor emeritus of music, died July 24, 2002, in Saratoga Springs. He was 97.

Born in Fort Plain, N.Y., Stanley earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Syracuse University. He studied organ with Marcel Dupre and Charles Marie Widor at the American School in Fontainebleau in France, and he studied composition with Nadia Boulanger. He held his first church organist job at the age of 12, formed his own orchestra as a college freshman, and toured Europe with Paul Whiteman’s Collegians.

Stanley joined the Skidmore faculty in 1928 and taught for 40 years, also serving as college organist. He had additional assignments as well: in the 1930s as director of buildings and plant, and in the 1940s documenting life at the college in color photography. He wrote for many Skidmore plays, shows, and pageants, including the songs “The Skidmore Way,” “Mr. Saratoga,” and “Inyo the World,” which were performed by the College Chorus.

A member of the American Guild of Organists, he designed and built many pipe organs in the eastern U.S., including the three-manual organ that debuted with the opening of Filene Recital Hall on Skidmore’s new campus in the 1980s. He pursued research in indigenous folk music as source material for compositions, a topic he addressed in his 1959 Faculty Research Lecture. He published many compositions for organ, piano, voice, and chorus. Also a prodigious performer—he offered 400 recitals on the Skidmore campus alone—he continued to play after retiring from Skidmore in 1969.

In retirement, Stanley’s love for cultivating and breeding daylilies evolved into a second distinguished career. With a quarter-million daylilies growing in Saxton Gardens (his large backyard in Saratoga), he was a major supplier of seeds to wholesalers and home gardeners alike. A charter member of the American Hemerocallis Society, he had more than 300 registered hybrids.

His wife predeceased him in 1957, and his son Peter survived him.

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