Alis Dickinson Adkins dead at 83

December 31, 2019
Alis Dickinson Adkins
Alis Dickinson Adkins

Alis Dickinson Adkins, former faculty member of the University of North Texas College of Music, died December 6, 2019, in Denton, Texas.

Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, on August 25, 1936, she grew up in Brownwood, Texas, and graduated from high school there in 1953. Both then and later at Howard Payne College in 1957, she led her graduating class as valedictorian, majoring in history and minoring in music. While subsequently teaching at Howard Payne and serving as organist of First Baptist Church in Brownwood, she pursued her two principal interests by completing a master’s degree in music history and organ at the University of Texas in Austin. There she studied organ with Jerald Hamilton. She was awarded a Fulbright scholarship for two years of study with Finn Viderø in Copenhagen, Denmark (1963–1965). He arranged for her to play recitals around Denmark and Sweden, concentrating on North German organ music that became the center of her repertoire.

Upon her return to Texas in 1965 Adkins enrolled at the University of North Texas pursuing a doctorate in musicology while teaching organ part-time. The degree was presented upon completion of her dissertation, "Keyboard Tablatures of the Mid-Seventeenth Century in the Royal Library, Copenhagen: Edition and Commentary," for which she was awarded a prize by the professional fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon. Dickinson also had the honor of being the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in the arts from a Texas university.

In 1967 Dickinson had married a musicological colleague, Cecil Adkins. Together they published articles on various aspects of the positive organ. In 1967 they also took over the bibliographical series Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology, the go-to publication for information on current and completed dissertations in the field.

Alis Adkins also taught music history and appreciation for many years at the University of North Texas. She served as organist and choirmaster of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Denton, for over fifty years.

Alis Dickinson Adkins is survived by eight children, Sean Adkins (Rexanne Ring), Lynne Adkins Rutherford (Paris), Elisabeth Adkins (Edward Newman), Christopher Adkins (Sasha), Clare Adkins Cason (David), Anthony Adkins (Erica), Alexandra Adkins Wenig (Steven), and Madeline Adkins (John Forrest), as well as by 12 grandchildren. Her memorial service was held at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Denton. Interment was in the columbarium under the organ, beside her husband, who died in 2015.