Richard Houghten, Organ Builder, Dies

Richard Stanley Houghten, 78 years old, passed away Dec. 29, 2021, from complications following heart surgery. Born Oct. 7, 1943 in Detroit, he was introduced to the organ while studying psychology at the University of Michigan. He eventually apprenticed to Robert Noehren as an organbuilder, as did classmate Jerroll Adams. Adams and Houghten forged a professional collaboration, sharing a barn-workshop in Milan, Michigan.

Early in his career he worked for Solid State Logic, eventually becoming president and board chairman. In this role he was central to the industry’s adoption and evolution of solid-state technology, particularly in the 1970s when such equipment was still novel. During this period, Richard and Jerroll built the gallery organ for St. Paul’s Church as designed by Organist/Choirmaster John Weissrock. He concurrently served as Verger for the parish and lived above the Thrift Shop from 1968 through 1972. His funeral will be held January 12, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. at The Cathedral Church of Saint Paul, 4800 Woodward Avenue, Detroit. The service will be live-streamed and available for later viewing.

In addition to the reactivation of the gallery organ at a cost considerably lower than any other organ builder would have charged, Richard donated the delightful Zymblestern Stop (Bell Star) given in memory of John Weissrock. This stop was used throughout our Christmas celebrations. He also authored and published “A History of the Organs of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Milwaukee.”