William Bernard Velten
January 23, 1926 – July 5, 2019
William Velten would tell you that he was born on January 23, 1926. His driver’s license would tell you that he was born on January 22, but either way he would love to sit down with you and tell you all about it. He was a man who loved to share a good story, through words and through his music.
He was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan to Augustus and Winifred Velten. He was there inspired to be an adventurer as a small boy when he heard Admiral Richard Byrd, the first explorer to reach the South Pole by air, speak about his travels. At the age of 12 or 13, a door to door salesman sold his parents two trumpets- one for him and one for his brother Morris. On that day his love for adventure met his love for music.
He was a career musician, travelling and playing his trumpet in the 40s 50s and 60s, playing and arranging music with such contemporaries as Elvis Presley, Donald O’Connor, Miles Davis, Benny Goodman, and Dale McBride. He was perhaps most proud of playing backup for Anita O’Day in the late 40’s. He loved to tell stories about being on the same circuit as Lawrence Welk, and his first band with Grammy award winner Claire Fischer, who later arranged music for Celine Dion, Prince, Dizzy Gillespie, Robert Palmer, Michael Jackson and many others. In the late 50s he brought his family to Waco, Texas to be closer to relatives and pursue a career more stable for his young family. Music remained a major thread in his life as he played anywhere he could get a gig.
In his sixties, physical limitations required him to put away his beloved trumpet. He responded to this fate by teaching himself to play the piano. This opened up new adventures in his life. Wherever there was an unattended piano, he would share his music and his stories, making new friends and new stories. He brought joy and fun, laughter and music to the lives of so many. He was dearly loved by the people of Pflugerville Community Church, blessing them as he was in turn blessed by them. His loss will be keenly felt by Pam, Brad and Ben Rutherford, who saw him as a father and grandfather.
Bill Velten is preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, a son, a stepdaughter, and is survived by two daughters Audrey Velten Perry and Laura Velten Garcia, several stepchildren, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
Bill Velten, adventurer and musician, will be missed.
A Memorial Service to celebrate Bill's life will be at 6:30 P.M. on Thursday, July 11, 2019 at Pflugerville Community Church, 1214 East Pflugerville, Texas.
- Augustus Velten, Father
- Winifred Doty Velten, Mother
- Audrey Velten Perry, Daughter
- Laura Velten Garcia, Daughter
- He is also preceded in death by his two brothers, a son, a stepdaughter, and is also survived by several stepchildren, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
- Memorial Service Thursday, July 11, 2019