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Two notable deaths were reported during the past week – one that grabbed the attention of folks in and around Springfield, as well as sports fans throughout the Midwest. That, of course, was former MSU Bears’ Coach Charlie Spoonhour.
The other received little media attention, other than an obituary in area newspapers. But I’d be willing to admit that he touched as many lives as Coach “Spoon” and his efforts may have a more lasting affect. That reference is made to my former band teacher King Shollenberger.
Mr. Shollenberger was tough as nails but meek as a lamb. He was harsh but sweet. He was a teacher at heart. It wasn’t just a job for him. It was a passion. He loved music and he loved kids. And he had a true desire to help kids learn to appreciate music.
A few memories that stand out was learning to march – especially street marching. Keeping the diagonals straight while turning a corner, closing in for the narrow passages then spreading out to fill the street in the Springfield Christmas parade. And when we did a halftime show at the football game, we actually formed images on the field. We had a play-by-play diagram and each person had an assigned position.
I remember, as a young band member, going to Springfield to see the US Marine Corps Band in concert, and I remember his whistle. Not a mechanical whistle. He didn’t need one. Two fingers between his lips produced an alarm that could be heard over the din of a band room out of control.
I remember the day two students got into a fight during band. Mr. Shollenberger made them stay after class and apologize to one another, complete with a hand shake. I really thought … and they did, too, that he was going to make them kiss.
As a young band student, struggling to learn to play (only) the trombone, I was awed to see Mr. Shollenberger help one student with the trumpet or tuba, then go to the woodwind section and pick up a clarinet or saxophone and play a passage for students there. I wondered, “Do you have to know how to play everything to be a band teacher?”
It was in Mr. Shollenberger’s class that I learned “The Nutcracker Suite” and “Man of LaMancha” (I thought they were just songs. I didn’t know they were scores from Broadway musicals).
The music from the Shollenberger era that had the most lasting affect on me was the Sousa marches. To this day that’s what I look forward to when I watch the big fireworks shows on the Fourth of July. It’s not the pyrotechnics so much as it is “El Capitan” and “The Washington Post March” and my all time favorite, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Mr. Shollenberger’s obituary can be found in the Herald this week.
As for Coach Spoonhour, although he only coached at MSU from 1983-92, he will live on as a legend there in the hearts of basketball fans throughout the area who follow Bears basketball today because of the love for the game that developed during the Coach Spoonhour era.
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Now for a quick word regarding the Douglas County University of Missouri Extension.
It was exciting to see so many people turn out Monday morning at the courthouse in support of Extension. And the crowd and the County Commissioners are to be commended for making it a very productive meeting, with no yelling and screaming, no threats and no throwing things.
The meeting was conducted very diplomatically, and best of all, in the end Presiding Commissioner Larry Pueppke said the county will work with Extension and will find a way to fund the program for the coming year.