Roy Samuelsen
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Roy Samuelsen
  • June 12, 1933 - September 7, 2017
  • Bloomington, Indiana

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Opera singer and college professor Roy Samuelsen died on September 7, while on a family trip in Wyoming. He was born on June 12, 1933 in Moss, Norway, to Ragnar Andreas Samuelsen and Margareth Olivia (Evensen) Samuelsen. He grew up under the Nazi occupation of his country, and began his career as a singer entertaining neighbors and countrymen in air raid shelters, especially singing American cowboy songs, which he loved from an early age. In 1950, his family emigrated to the United States, settling in Provo, Utah. After graduating from Provo High School, he was drafted into the United States Army, and served in Germany. While there, he began to study with a German music professor, Herr Josef Heuler, who encouraged him to sing opera. He married Mary Lou Thorne in the Salt Lake Temple on May 25, 1955. After finishing his military obligation, Roy became a journeyman sheet metal worker, in the shop of Joe Creer, and also studied music at Brigham Young University.

In 1961, he was accepted into a graduate program in music at Indiana University, in Bloomington Indiana. In 1962, having finished his degree, he was hired as a member of the Indiana Music School faculty. He taught voice at Indiana until his retirement in 1999. He subsequently taught part-time at the University of Indianapolis. He also sang for some of the leading opera companies in the US, including New York City Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera Company, Boston Lyric Opera Company, Houston Opera, and San Francisco Opera. He was well-known in Utah for his many performances with the Utah Symphony. Altogether, he learned and sang professionally over a hundred leading operatic roles. He was frequently featured at the Kentucky Opera, in Louisville, Kentucky. He was also featured in the world premieres and recordings of such seminal LDS musical works as Leroy Robertson's Book of Mormon Oratorio, and Robert Cundick's The Redeemer. As a scholar, he was expert in the art songs of Scandinavia, which he also performed and recorded, and especially the songs of Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and Icelandic composers. But he was probably most famous as a singer of the US National Anthem, which he sang at Indiana University basketball games for over 20 years.

He was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and served in many leadership callings, including as a bishop, and for many years, on the High Council. In retirement he returned to Norway with his wife to serve as a missionary.

He loved the outdoors, loved camping and hiking and fishing, and, most particularly, boating, as befit his Viking ancestry. He was a world traveler, and with his beloved Mary, visited all seven continents, and over eighty countries. He was an enthusiastic and talented photographer, and later in life, loved writing his memoirs.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou Thorne Samuelsen, and three sons, Eric, Robert and Rolf, his sister, Trudy Mulcock, by 13 grandchildren, and by 7 great-grandchildren.

Funeral Services will he held on Friday, Sept. 15, at 1:00, at the LDS chapel at 2411 E. 2nd Street, Bloomington, Indiana. Visitation will be on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 7:00 p.m., at the LDS chapel, 2411 E. 2nd Street, Bloomington, Indiana.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Perpetual Education fund of www.ldsphilanthropies.org which provides education funding for underprivileged, mostly third-world students.