Casavant Frères

courtesy of the family

Organist John Obetz, of Leawood, Kan., died Thursday morning in hospice care. He suffered from a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Obetz was 81. 

The former dean of the Kansas City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, Obetz played what’s been called the king of instruments — the pipe organ. As an associate professor at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance for three decades, he taught countless students to do the same.

A pipe organ is custom-designed and created for a place. When the Casavant Frères organ at the spiral-shaped Community of Christ temple in Independence was first played nearly two decades ago, one critic called it "one of the most glorious organs in North America."