Will K. Andress, Class of 1960
Upon the occasion of his retirement in 2007, Centenary College of Louisiana named Dr. Will K. Andress "Director Emeritus" of the Centenary College Choir. College President Dr. Kenneth Schwab made the appointment in recognition of Will's exemplary 33 years (1974-2007) of leadership and service to both the Choir and the College.
Will's experience with the Centenary College Choir began much earlier, however. He was a high school senior from El Dorado, AR, in 1956 when he saw the Centenary Choir perform under the direction of Dr. A.C. "Cheesy" Voran. Even though Will had already enrolled at Lafayette College in Easton, PA, he was so impressed with the Choir that he traveled to Shreveport for an audition.
That fall, Will began his Centenary College Choir career as tenor soloist. During his years, the Choir traveled to Japan twice to sing Easter Sunrise Services for the troops on Okinawa, and made its first appearance at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. During their five years together, Cheesy mentored Will, hoping to create a choir director for future generations. In his senior year at Centenary, Will served as Choir President.
After graduation, Will moved his family throughout the South while furthering his education. He earned a graduate degree in Church Music from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, a Masters in Music from East Carolina University, and a Doctor of Music from Florida State University.
In 1974, Centenary appointed Will director of the Centenary College Choir, a moment Will still recalls as "the proudest moment of my life, not including marrying Julia Ann and the gift of my two children, Knox and Libby."
Will, like Cheesy, came to be known not just as director, but also as counselor, teacher and friend to the more than 500 students who came through the choir during his tenure. His motto, often repeated, is "We are here to love people into doing great things."
Under Will's leadership, the Choir took its role as "America's Singing Ambassadors" to new heights, traveling to 31 countries on six of the seven continents, singing for many heads of state and military commanders. The Choir entertained Christmas guests at the White House seven times, and was the first Protestant choir to sing mass in St. Peter's Basilica. The choir performed in many other historic worship sites around the world, including Westminster Abbey, Notre Dame, Canterbury Cathedral, and St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Will received Centenary College's highest honor for an alumnus - induction into Centenary's Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007. Upon his retirement, by proclamation of the Louisiana Senate and House, he was also recognized for a lifetime of commitment and service to the State of Louisiana.
In 2011, after 40 years of service, Will retired from his role as Director of Music Ministries at First United Methodist Church of Shreveport. He continues to serve FUMC part-time as Director of the Emmett Hook Center, a state-of-the-art performing arts center which opened in 2011. He works with the College Alumni Board on major projects as well. Will and current Centenary Choir director Dr. David Hobson also plan to continue the Choir's successful program of occasional alumni tours.