Barclay, William Archibald (1907–1969)

By: Michael Pullin

Type: Biography

Published: November 21, 2006

Updated: October 5, 2020

William Archibald Barclay, organist and professor of organ, was born in Temple, Texas, on February 26, 1907, the son of Rigsby Ledbetter and Louzelle Rose Barclay. Gifted from his earliest days, Barclay began playing the piano almost as soon as his hands could reach the keys. His mother, a talented pianist and organist, was his first piano teacher. On the organ, Barclay began with Mrs. W. A. Harrell in Temple. As a teenager he traveled alone on the train to Dallas to study under Harold Van Katwick. Barclay had the ability to play by ear any music he heard. As a result, he played in church as early as age ten. He entered Burleson College in Greenville, Texas, the year he graduated from Temple High School (1923). The next year, he transferred to Baylor University in Waco, from which he graduated in 1927. During the summers he studied in New York at Columbia University and at Guilmant Organ School with William Carl and Ernest Hutcheson. After graduation, Barclay moved to Fort Worth, where he accepted the position of professor of organ at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, thanks in part to his friendship with Isham Reynolds, director of the School of Gospel Music. Barclay was well liked by the students, and his performances were always well attended. One commentator at a commencement service for which Barclay played wrote, "President Scarborough presided, Prof. I. E. Reynolds had charge of the music and Prof. William Barclay was at the pipe organ. How that boy can play! He gets a wonderful amount of music out of that great instrument."

Barclay remained with the seminary from 1928 to 1948. He held numerous other positions in and around Fort Worth, including staff organist at WBAP radio in Fort Worth (1928–42), professor of organ at Trinity University in Waxahachie (1933–36), organist at Hemphill Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth (1933–36), organist (1942–46) and minister of music (1946–69) at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, staff organist at WBAP-TV in Fort Worth (1949–53), and "director of serious music" at WBAP–FM in Fort Worth (1955–57). Barclay was married in 1948 to Dora Poteet. The couple had no children. At the time of his death, of cancer on January 28, 1969, in Fort Worth, Barclay was married to a woman named Louise. He was buried in the family plot in Temple.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 29, 1969. F. M. McConnell, "Seminary Commencement," Baptist Standard, May 29, 1930. William J. Reynolds, The Cross and the Lyre: The Story of the School of Church Music, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1994). Vertical files, Archives and Special Collections Department, Roberts Library, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth.

  • Music
  • Education
  • Educators
  • Music and Drama
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Michael Pullin, “Barclay, William Archibald,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 19, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 21, 2006
October 5, 2020

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