Forty years service on the same organ bench: that's the distinction shared by the Kitterman brothers - David, Keith and Richard - though they have performed separately, not as a trio.
Sons of Harold and Genevieve Kitterman of Ensign 3rd Ward, Salt Lake Ensign Stake, one or another of them has been the ward organist ever since 1952, save for a few years out for mission service or school.Richard, the youngest son, still lives in the ward with his wife and three small children. He just completed 20 years as ward organist, having begun when he was 12 years old.
David was the first Kitterman organist, beginning in 1952 when he was 12, at the old East Ensign Ward on Ninth Avenue and D Street. (He actually began playing piano for priesthood meeting when he was 9.) David continued in the present building at Ninth Avenue and K Street, dedicated as the East Ensign Ward in 1955, and in the Ensign 3rd Ward after a further division in 1957, until he left on a mission in 1960, for a total of nine years. He is now a professor of English history at Northern Arizona University, and lives with his family in Flagstaff, where he frequently plays for priesthood meeting in the Flagstaff 4th Ward.
Keith began in 1966 at age 11, and played through his school years except for mission time, when Richard took over. By the time Richard served a mission, Keith was back in the ward and on the organ bench for a few more years, for a total of 11 years.
Another brother, Paul, played piano for auxiliary meetings, but never the organ.
All the boys studied piano quite willingly, but none of them had exhaustive organ training. Each at one time or another took a six-week workshop with Tabernacle organist Frank Asper in the Assembly Hall, but much of their expertise they picked up on their own.
"We could come into the ward and practice, if we promised not to let out all the stops," said Richard. However, the temptation was sometimes too much for a boy on a power trip with the fine Wicks pipe organ, with an estimated 1,500 pipes. "More than once I tripped the circuit breaker," Richard recalled with a laugh. In recent years he has been more concerned with fending off one son or another who wants to sit beside him on the bench and set off a wolf tone or two.
Keith now lives with his wife and six children in the Bountiful 45th Ward, where he is priesthood organist. Keith and Richard are president and vice-president of their own computer software company, specializing in custom programming and consulting. But every once in awhile they still like to sneak back onto the organ bench.