Becknell, longtime music director, dies at 62

William Ray Becknell died July 15. He was 62.

William Ray Becknell died July 15. He was 62.MOUNT PLEASANT—William Ray Becknell, music director for 28 years at Christ Our King Church, died July 15. He was 62.

The funeral was held July 23 at the parish and burial was at Mount Pleasant Memorial Gardens.
Becknell was born in 1947 in Lexington, Ky., the youngest son of Ray and Ruby Becknell. He was a graduate of Shepardsville High School and the University of Kentucky with a bachelor’s degree in music.

He moved to South Carolina in the 1970s to teach at Vonkolnitz and Moultrie Middle Schools. He later earned a master’s degree in music education from the University of South Carolina. He taught at Wando High School as the choral and music educator from 1976-1980. In 1990, he earned a master’s degree from USC in organ performance.

Becknell started as a cantor at Christ Our King in 1980 and quickly became the organist. In 1982, he began directing the music program, including a 50-voice adult choir, youth choirs, adult and youth handbell choirs, a 22-person cantor program, a funeral choir, a music ministry to nursing and assisted living facilities, and working with a variety of instrumentalists and accompanists. The Christ Our King choir has performed internationally and appeared multiple times at Piccolo Spoleto.

Becknell was also the former conductor and director of music for the Charleston Opera Company and director and accompanist for the Charleston Renaissance Ensemble. He was a member of National Pastoral Musicians, American Guild of Organists, and American Choral Directors’ Association.

He is survived by his wife Mary Beth Brock, his son Kevin and daughter-in-law Roxanna Brock, a brother Robert and sister-in-law Julie Becknell.