Alan Thomas Willoughby

April 20, 1930 ~ April 7, 2021 (age 90)

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Alan Thomas ("Al") Willoughby, 90, died in the evening of April 7, 2021 at Dunwoody Village in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania of congestive heart failure.

Al Willoughby, son of Alfred Slocum and Alma Katharine Willoughby, was born at Hahnemann University Hospital in 1930 and raised in Germantown, Pennsylvania.  He began attending prep school in seventh grade at William Penn Charter School, graduating in 1947, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Haverford College four years later in 1951.

From 1954 to 1956 Al relocated to Louisiana to work as a chemist, but was then inducted into the Army, assigned to the Medical Corps stationed in Germany in 1957, and ultimately received an Honorable Discharge with a rank of Specialist 1st Class.  Returning to the Main Line, he settled into a pastoral Gladwyne home where he lived for the next 50 years, around which he eagerly gardened and playfully cavorted with his three dogs, and in which he was regularly serenaded through his bedroom window during the wee-hours by a family of great horned owls.  Al's professional career culminated in his work at IBM as a Systems Engineer from 1964 until his retirement in 1991, a position in which he was responsible for the on-site installation, configuration, and upgrading of mainframe computer equipment at multiple locations across the country, as well as the coordination of customer accounts to support enterprise sales.

The great passions that sustained and nurtured Al throughout his life were music, drama, and church.  From an early age he repeatedly involved himself in related organizations at school, consistently engaging as a participant, student manager, and executive committee member in musical and dramatic clubs at Penn Charter, as well as joining Glee Club and Class Night in each of his four years at Haverford.

Al met his wife Roberta ("Bobbie"), to whom he was married for 55 years, in 1960 at a ticketing party hosted by the Savoy Company, the oldest amateur theater organization continuously performing the 13 surviving operas of Gilbert and Sullivan in the world.  He joined Savoy the following year, singing and dancing nearly every spring over the next 23 years in performances at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia and in the Open Air Theater at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square.  Al eventually appeared in all 13 operas, acting in a principle role in a production of Ruddigore in 1973, and was a member of the Traveling Troupe which performed for a variety of audiences in America and Canada.  He was also heavily involved within the Savoy organization, serving two-year terms as Savoy's Treasurer (1965-1966), Vice President (1967-1968), and President (1969-1970), as well as sitting on their Board of Directors, Advisory Board, and Committees throughout his years of participation.

Al and Bobbie also became members of the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church congregation in 1968, which would serve as the other fundamental community around which Al devoted his musical, social, and leadership activities throughout the remainder of his life.  He began singing in the church's Senior Choir in 1988 and traveled with them on several concert tours of choral performances in Austria, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Russia, and the Southern United States.  Al worked collaboratively as a production supervisor on BMPC's staging of Benjamin Britten's one-act opera Noye's Fludde in 1994, making additional contributions as a member of the production's set painting and set/stage construction committees, and sat for several years on the Board of Directors of Vox Ama Deus, a Philadelphia-area classical vocal and instrumental performance ensemble.  He also manually played BMPC's 49-bell carillon since its installation in 2005, ceasing only recently when he could no longer climb the 85 narrow, winding steps up to the console high within the church tower, although he enthusiastically triggered a simple tolling of the carillon bells through a remote electronic programmable keyboard on All Saints' Sunday.  Al participated in BMPC's elected leadership as an Elder, serving the church's ministries on their Music and Fine Arts, Mission, and Youth & Families Councils.  And for several years, beginning in 2001, he and Bobbie also volunteered with the Hosts for Hospitals program, coordinated through BMPC, opening their home to lodge out-of-town guests with family members in need of specialized medical treatment within the greater-Philadelphia area.

Al is predeceased by his father (1976) and mother (1986), as well as his brothers Donald Slocum (1982) and Lloyd Alfred (1945) Willoughby.  He is survived by his wife Bobbie (of Newtown Square), his two sons Alan Thomas Jr (of Beaverton, OR) and David Wistar (of Arlington, MA), and his three grandchildren Grace Katharine, Helen Milne (both of Arlington), and Bennett Paul Willoughby (of Beaverton).

A memorial service will be held at 2pm on Thursday, May 13th at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church.  For anyone unable to attend in person, a livestream broadcast of the service in real time will be accessible online at and an archived recording will also be made available for future viewing — a URL to that video will be posted here once it's been uploaded to its hosting platform.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church: online at or mailed attn Sarah Miciek, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Ave, Bryn Mawr, PA  19010-3599  |  Haverford College: online at or mailed c/o Institutional Advancement, Haverford College, 370 W Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA  19041-1392  |  William Penn Charter School: online at or mailed attn Nicole Martz, William Penn Charter School, 3000 W School House Ln, Philadelphia, PA  19144-5412.





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Memorial Service
May 13, 2021

2:00 PM
Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church
625 Montgomery Ave
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010


Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, attn Sarah Miciek
625 Montgomery Ave., Bryn Mawr PA 19010-3599

Haverford College, c/o Institutional Advancement
370 W Lancaster Ave., Haverford PA 19041-1392

William Penn Charter School, attn Nicole Martz
3000 W School House Ln, Philadelphia PA 19144-5412

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