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In Memoriam: Leo Bidne

In Memoriam: Leo Bidne

June 20, 1954 – March 6, 2019

by Tim Olsen

Originally published in American Lutherie #137, 2019


Unless you have been a Guild member for a very long time, you may not remember Leo Bidne as a GAL staffer. But he was, back in the long-gone days of the mid-’70s when it was a strictly volunteer position, and we would sweep the chips off the workbench to paste up the copy, then hand-collate and staple the newsletter.

GAL staff members in 1975. From left: Bon Henderson, Leo Bidne, Bob Petrulis, and Tim Olsen. Deb Olsen was holding the camera. These hippies posed in front of our current GAL headquarters, which is the same building as Tim and Deb’s house. At that time it was the location of Tim’s lutherie shop, where Bob and Leo joined Tim in lutherie pursuits. (This photo was part of the slide show, The Making of a Newsletter, which was prepared in 1975 for the 2nd GAL Convention held in Evanston, Illinois, which Leo attended with Tim and Deb.) Both photos by Deb Olsen.
From left: Tim, Leo, and Bob at the 2014 GAL Convention. Bob continues to serve the Guild as a member of our Board of Directors.

Leo was a guy who could just do things. It seems like anything that caught his interest, he would simply do: repairing and building guitars; writing and arranging music; playing most any musical instrument. And then, as he grew older and our paths diverged, he moved into audio and video recording and production, and became the proprietor of a music store. He was a family man with children and grandchildren, for whom he would build amazing things like a full-sized R2D2, and produce elaborate Star Wars fan films starring the neighborhood kids. I guess he never lost that naive belief that by doing the fun and create stuff that came naturally to him, he could make the world a better place — which he did, for American luthiers and for many others.