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Remembering Billy Wennlund

Billy Wennlund, a long-time veteran executive of the home organ business, passed away on Feb. 19 surrounded by his family. He was 81.

Wennlund was associated with Lowrey Organs for more than 19 years. His career with Lowrey bridged both Chicago Musical Instrument Co. (CMI) and Norlin Music’s ownership of Lowrey. He held a number of positions including vice president of marketing and product development for Lowrey.


After service in U.S. Navy, Wennlund joined The Wurlitzer Company where his late brother, Don, also worked. Several years later, he and Don successfully operated Fowler Music, a piano and organ retail business in Joliet, Ill., before joining CMI and Lowrey in 1964.

For many years, Wennlund worked side-by-side with his brother, who focused on sales. Don did “the pitch” and Wennlund did “the demo.” Their joint product introductions and presentations at Lowrey’s annual NAMM Show breakfast meetings were an event highlight.

During his tenure with Lowrey, Wennlund spearheaded some of the brand’s most successful models including the Teenie Genie series. His aggressive product development program helped Lowrey achieve a dominant stance at the peak of the home organ market in the United States. He also played a key role in pioneering Lowrey’s international development especially in the South African market.

A native of DeKalb, Ill., Wennlund retired from Norlin Music in 1983 and eventually relocated to central Missouri. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Mary Lou, and his daughters, Cindy and Karen.

Donations in Wennlund’s memory can be made to:

Dogwood Animal Shelter
1075 Runabout Drive
Osage Beach, MO 65065