Obituary: Whatcom Symphony recovery guru John Corliss, 80

Posted on: January 10, 2013

In Wednesday’s (1/9) Bellingham Herald (Washington), Dean Kahn writes, “The next time you attend a Whatcom Symphony Orchestra concert, give thanks to John Corliss, who died Jan. 4 at the age of 80. ‘The symphony has lost perhaps the greatest friend it has ever had,’ said Becky Elmendorf, board president. ‘He saved the Whatcom Symphony.’ Four years ago, rising budgets, declining sponsorships during the recession and an apparent lack of tight budget controls threatened to silence the community orchestra. That’s when Corliss, a retired Lockheed manager who served as the orchestra’s volunteer executive director for much of the ‘90s, came to the rescue. He helped organize an emergency meeting attended by current and former board members, orchestra members and community supporters, and headed a temporary ‘recovery committee’ to put the orchestra onto firm ground. … Under Corliss’ emergency tenure, the orchestra cut costs, held a successful ‘Puccini and pasta’ fundraiser, set up volunteer committees to focus on various tasks—such as ticketing, marketing and public relations—and tweaked their software so the committees and board members could monitor income and spending.”

Posted January 10, 2013