Long-time Anglican church organist Bill Gliddon could hardly walk a few feet without being embraced by a well-wisher at his 80th birthday party Aug. 11.

The St. George’s and St. Margaret’s Anglican Church community hailed the choir director for his 57 years serving in the role. After a standing ovation at the end of the Sunday service, the party attracted dozens of Gliddon’s friends and family to celebrate.

It is those same people who have driven Gliddon to continue making music to fill the church’s chambers, he said.

“You become friends and the choir that I have, it just became like my second family,” Gliddon said. “I just feel very blessed.”

Gliddon was born and raised in Haliburton. After leaving to study music, he returned to teach music classes for students throughout the highlands. He said there was a pressing need for music teachers at the time.

“I really thought music is so important, in the children’s lives especially,” Gliddon said. “That’s why I came back and I’m so happy I did. I’ve always lived here ever since.”

That same drive to help his community brought him into the role of church organist. The Anglican church reached out to him when the spot opened up, with nobody else in place to take it on.

“I’ve never taken an organ lesson in my life,” Gliddon said. “But they told me the need here was really urgent.”

Through his work with the church, Gliddon has forged hundreds of connections with people. Rev. Ken McClure said Gliddon is a pillar of the church.

“If there’s somebody who’s sick, he knows about it, he visits in a heartbeat. If there’s somebody that needs to drive somewhere, Bill’s going to do it,” McClure said. “He is an example of what every one of us should be doing and being in church.”

Gliddon also practices that altruism at home. He keeps a cooler at the front of his driveway, stocked with water bottles for people passing by.

“If you really follow the Christian example, you don’t think of yourself as much as you think of other people,” Gliddon said. “If you’re helping other people, it makes you happy because you’re making them happy. I think that’s the way. If the world was like that, it would be great.”

Louise Cooper was in Gliddon’s choir from 1969-2009. She said he helps people improve. “This church, he’s the heart and soul. He never takes a holiday. He’s always here. He reaches out to people.”

There’s no heir-apparent for Gliddon for his role. Although issues like arthritis and eyesight have started creeping up, Gliddon said he is intent on doing the job as long as he is able.

“When the time comes that I feel like I can’t do an adequate job, then I’d be happy to just give it to someone else,” Gliddon said. “If someone else would only come along.”

As gifts, cards and love descended upon Gliddon for his birthday, he thanked everyone for being part of it. He said the event was not about him, but the whole community.

“This is what life is all about is being a family. And we are a wonderful family in this community,” Gliddon said. “We are so blessed to live in this beautiful spot.”

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