ATOS History

ATOS History

The American Theatre Organ Society was originally known as the American Theatre Organ Enthusiasts. The organizational meeting was held on February 8, 1955 at the Hollywood residence of Dick Simonton. The avowed purpose of the A.T.O.E. was set forth as follows:
"Organized for the purpose of preserving the tradition of the theatre organ and to further the understanding of this instrument and its music through the exchange of information."

In 1969 the name of the organization was officially changed to the American Theatre Organ Society, and the group now includes members from all over the world. Yearly conventions allow members to listen to noteworthy instruments and artists, while local chapters allow individuals to have hands-on experiences and local concerts. While the organization originally focused on the preservation of pipe organs, it has expanded to include performances and information on electronic instruments.


Read the first issue of the Theatre Organ Journal

Theatre Organ Journal
Spring 1959


ATOS Founders

FOUNDING: Tuesday, February 8, 1955. Left to right, TOP ROW: Bob Jacobus, W. "Tiny" James, Frank Bindt, Dave Kelly, Richard Vaughn, Gordon Kibbee, Dave Barrett, Harvey Heck, Bob Olson. CENTER ROW: Jerry Sullivan, Judd Walton, Gordon Blanchard, Archie March, Ray Booth, Ray Webber, Don George, Merle Finkenbinder, Eddie Cleveland, Lloyd Davey, Buddy Cole. SEATED: Marie Kibbee, Buddy Wittenberg, Helena Simonton, Francis Sullivan, Ramona Gerhard Sutton, Paul Pease, Dr. Mel Doner, Richard C. Simonton, Dr. Orrin Hostetter, Keith McCaleb, and Kenny Wright. (Photo courtesy of Helena Simonton)

The following officers were elected:

Dick SimontonPresident

  • Dick Simonton (pictured right)

Vice President

  • Judd Walton


  • Paul Pease

Executive Committee (pictured right, from L to R)

  • Judd Walton
  • Buddy Wittenberg
  • Paul Pease
  • First ATOE Executive CommitteeRichard Vaughn
  • Dr. Melvin Doner
  • Richard Simonton
  • Gordon Kibee
  • Dr. Orrin Hostetter
  • Buddy Cole (not pictured)

Editor of The Tibia

  • Dr. M. H. Doner


Don Feely, Website Editor