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William Floyd Wakeland

September 30, 1930 - February 20, 2021

Muncie – William Floyd Wakeland, who devoted much of his life to teaching the performance, understanding, and enjoyment of music in its many forms, passed away February 20, 2021, peacefully in his sleep. He was 90 years old.

Bill was born into a musical family on September 30, 1930 in Fayette, Missouri to Floyd and …READ MORE

Muncie – William Floyd Wakeland, who devoted much of his life to teaching the performance, understanding, and enjoyment of music in its many forms, passed away February 20, 2021, peacefully in his sleep. He was 90 years old.

Bill was born into a musical family on September 30, 1930 in Fayette, Missouri to Floyd and Mary (Nesbit) Wakeland.  He grew up in Carbondale, Illinois, where his father was a professor of music and choral conductor at Southern Illinois University. Music was the lingua franca of the Wakeland home, and Bill regularly sang in his father’s choirs and other musical performances. After graduating from SIU-Carbondale, Bill went on to earn his master’s degree in music from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and his PhD in music education from SIU-Carbondale.

While enrolled at Northwestern, Bill received a draft notice in the fall of 1952. He reported to Camp Atterbury in southern Indiana, where one of his first duties that very cold winter was to help move the entire camp by truck and by jeep to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Bill viewed his time in the Army, like so much of his life, as an educational experience. Because he could type, play the piano, and drive, Bill became a Chaplain’s assistant and, decades later, continued to regularly cite and even quote the wisdom he had gained from the Chaplains he had worked for.

While an undergraduate, Bill met Ruth McClure, the very skilled piano accompanist for his father’s choirs. Ruth eventually became Bill’s literal “accompanist” in the summer of 1954 when the two were married. The couple had two children, Leah and Ray, while teaching music in public schools in Hammond, Indiana, later settling in Muncie in 1964, when Bill was offered a position at Ball State University. Bill’s work as a professor of music education was only one piece in the large musical tapestry he and Ruth created in the Muncie area. Bill conducted numerous Ball State choirs, was the choral conductor at Burris High School and, for 45 years, the music director at Hazelwood Christian Church in Muncie, where Ruth was organist.

Bill enjoyed combining these various efforts, frequently blending high school, college, and church choirs and handbell choirs into ambitious musical performances. A spectacular example was a series of Madrigal Dinners, a Christmas time event that allowed patrons to step back into the Renaissance for an evening of music, food, and merriment.

These were appropriate, since Bill was a true Renaissance man, a polymath whose passions and interests were extraordinarily wide and varied. Throughout and following his professional career, you could find Bill traveling the U.S., often in his 1964 International camper, seeking out steam engine and tractor shows, traversing the Atlantic to tour English churches while learning the historically beautiful tradition of tower bell change ringing, attending pottery workshops, studying to be a truck driver, collecting antique butter churns, renovating a 1925 Model-T, writing a regular newsletter for a regional model railroad club, and giving seminars at handbell festivals.

The capstone of his post-professional life was his beloved “Adaline,” a self-described “party house” he built in Yorktown, Indiana as a retirement project. Bill began taking various construction classes at Ivy Tech. One such class was canceled two weeks in a row because there was no money to buy wood. Bill told the instructor that if he and his class wanted to work on a house that Bill suggested, Bill would always supply the necessary materials. Thus, the Adaline house became an Ivy Tech classroom. Bill learned enough in the classes in framing, plumbing, finishing, roofing, tiling, and electrical to be able to finish projects the Ivy Tech students started. When he completed an associate’s degree in Construction Technology, the Hazelwood choir presented to him a hard hat with a graduation tassel.

The Adaline house was the venue for many dinners and events in which Bill served as chef and master of ceremonies for the entertainment, often with audience participation, whether it was music, poetry readings, songs, or, Monty Python sketches. Bill continued to tinker (“to make sawdust”) at the Adaline house until just a couple months before his passing.

Bill loved planning and cooking big dinners and put that skill to work later in life by being a regular part of 100 Men Who Cook of Muncie, a charitable event benefiting early child education. There you could sample Bill’s famous sauerkraut salad or possibly his “Kielbasa Nova.”

Bill possessed a love of learning and carried that love to the end as a stalwart member of the Association of Lifelong Learners at Ball State. During Covid, Bill kept the ALL history group connected with emails of aphorisms, gifs, memes, cartoons, and humorous and/or educational videos.

Bill is survived by his wife of 66 years, Ruth (McClure) Wakeland, his daughter, Leah (Wakeland) Turner of Indianapolis, IN, and son, Ray Scott Wakeland of Marlborough, MA, three grandchildren, Selena Turner of Brooklyn, NY, Shannon (Turner) Fuller of Chicago, IL, and Josh Turner of Brooklyn, NY, and by his sister Marilyn (Wakeland) Hoskins of Washington, D.C. There will be no formal funeral service, but there will likely be a memorial concert at a later date when pandemic conditions permit.

As an expression of sympathy, donations may be made to the Floyd Wakeland Memorial Award in Music Endowment Fund through the School of Music at Southern Illinois University. For information, visit music.siu.edu or call 618.453.2870.


The Meeks Mortuary and Crematory, Washington Street Chapel is in charge of arrangements and online condolences may be sent to the family at www.meeksmortuary.com.



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