The estate of Maj. William Putman ’55 has gifted the department of music at Presbyterian College with its third grand piano of the year. The gift is a 1950s-era Steinway Model D, a nine-foot concert grand piano, preferred by performers.
“Though already a 60-year-old piano, the instrument is in pristine condition, having been owned, played, and maintained only by Mr. Putman,” said Porter Stokes, professor of music and chair for the department of music. “It may be, now, the best performing piano we have on a PC stage.
Previously in the year, the music department received an 1894 Steinway Model M grand piano that had been restored to almost showroom quality from alumnus, Charles Weston ‘69. In addition, the Rehoboth Presbyterian Church donated a 1984 Steinway Model D along with a significant donation to the Neville Hall Project.
“The most recent piano is a ‘major gift from our perspective and, again as with the gifts earlier this year, changes our department in a truly significant way,” Stokes said. “Without gifts and donors such as this, we would not be where we are today.”
Putman was born October 24, 1933 in Laurens, S.C. to Willie P. Putman and Jane Scott Foster Putman. Putman attended Lauren’s city schools and graduated from Laurens High School in 1951. He then attended Presbyterian College where he majored in bible and minored in history.
Following graduating PC, Putman began an active military career in 1956 in Fort Benning, Ga., where he attended basic infantry officers course after completion of which he was permanently assigned to Fort Benning. After a short break of service, he returned to Fort Benning, Ga with duties as a platoon leader/training officer in the 223rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division, and assignments as Asst. S-1 of the 11th Infantry, and Aide-de-Camp to the Asst. Div. Commander.
Later, he moved with the General to the U.S. Army Infantry School where he continued his duties as Aide-de-Camp to the Asst. Commandant.
In 1963, Putman attended the infantry officers career course and then attended the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School in the military assistance training advisory course. Following, he attended the Defense Language Institute, West Coast, graduating from the Vietnamese language course.
Putman then served in Vietnam for a year. Subsequently, he received assignments at Fort Jackson, S.C.; Ft. Shafter, Hawaii; 18 more months in Vietnam; Fort Polk, La.; and ending his active duty military career with an assignment in Japan, as the Ch. Plans, Opns, and Programs, Div. and Special Dep. To the Asst. Ch. Of Staff, G-1.
Upon his return home, Putman graduated from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Va., and worked for three years in Tennessee. In 1979, he returned to Fort Benning as the protestant director of religious education where he served for 22 years.
Music played an important role in Putman’s life. He began piano lessons at the age of six, and received lessons in piano, voice, and organ through college. Through his military career and later, he served as an assistant organist at several military chapels, tenor soloist in many choirs, and participated in other off post musical activities.
In 1966, he was selected to sing in the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra and sang there until his departure from Hawaii. He was selected to be one of three American members of the Yokohama Symphony Chorus and sang with them as long as he was in Japan. While in Japan, he was also contracted by Japan Nippon Victor to make a series of English language children’s songs for use in Japanese schools to teach Japanese children English usage.
Returning to Fort Benning, Putman again sang in the infantry chapel choir and served as assistant organist for many years. Putman holds the record for being a member of the infantry chapel choir for more than 42 years.
Presbyterian College is located on a striking 240-acre campus in Clinton, between Columbia and Greenville, S.C. Offering challenging academics and a culture of honor, ethics, and service that prepares students to be leaders in communities, PC offers its students the benefit of engaging with an exceptional faculty who take individual interest in their students’ well-being, both personally and in the classroom. The Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy opened in 2010, and is dedicated to the ideals of leadership, honor to the profession, and service to the community. For more information about Presbyterian College, visit www.presby.edu.